Today is a sad day for Egyptian, Arab, and world cinema, as one of the most talented, and most respected actors, has passed away. Today we bid a farewell to Gamil Rateb; the father, the grandfather, the actor, the human.
Leaving our world after 92 years, Gamil Rateb will remain unforgotten thanks to his famous and diverse roles. Whether it’s the villain in El Keif movie, or the good guy in Al Raya Al Bayda’ series, or the lovable grandfather in the Yawmeyat Wanis franchise. With his undeniable talent and skills, Gamil Rateb could make us love or hate him with brilliant, dramatic, yet natural acting.
Over the last period of his life, Gamil Rateb was battling illness, travelling around the globe for a cure, but has spent his final days in his beloved Egypt. Born in Cairo, Gamil descended from an Egyptian mother and father, his mother coming from Upper Egypt and was the sister of Egyptian activist Hoda Shaarawy.
However, Gamil Rateb did receive education in France; after his first year in French Law School here in Egypt, he continued his higher education in Paris. Torn between the world of law and art, Gamil Rateb finally pursued his dream of becoming an actor, gaining deserved recognition by receiving awards from Egyptian and foreign schools in Egypt during the 1940s.
But the film Al-So’ood Ila Al Haweya was the real beginning of his career, a turning point in his life. Ana Al-Sharq was his first leading role, afterwards Gamil Rateb was spotted by André Gide who was impressed by his performance in Oedipus Rex and advised him to study theatre in Paris, which he did.
The educated actor came back to Cairo, building his professional career with unforgettable roles such as Abo El-Fadl, the father of Mohamed Sobhy in Yawmeyat Wanis series starting in 1994, as well as leading roles in a number of successful Egyptian movies. But Gamil Rateb was also globally acclaimed, he played important roles in 7 French movies, and starred in three Tunisian films of French-Egyptian production. Gamil Rateb also participated in the Oscar-winning and critically acclaimed film Lawrence of Arabia, alongside another Egyptian legend, and world renowned actor: Omar Sharif.
Gamil Rateb was a wonderful actor, but he was also an excellent director, being the man behind plays such as Al Ostaz written by Saad El-Din Wahba, and Ziarat Al-Sayeda Al-Agooz which he co-produced with Mohamed Sobhy, as well as Shahrazad written by Tawfik Al-Hakim.
Cairo International Film Festival honoured him for his long history of acting in Cairo and Paris, and for his 67 Egyptian movies, as well his respectable number of foreign films. Today we also honour the passing of such a brilliant man and actor, may he forever remain in the hearts of minds of his fans around the globe.