Egyptian actress Soad Hosny is one of the few who were able to win the hearts and minds of every household in Egypt and the Arab world from the 1960s.
Dubbed Egyptian Cinema’s Cinderella, Hosny would be forever immortalized thanks to her contributions to the industry with more than 83 movies to her name, nine of which are among the 100 greatest movies in Egyptian history.
A cultural icon to be reckoned with, we can still see her influence decades after her passing in everything from fashion to makeup and acting style.
But if this is the first time hearing about her, here’s a refresher! Hosny’s journey into the world of cinema started at the tender age of three when she appeared in a show dedicated to children along with small roles at the time, however, as the 1950s came to an end, it was time for her star to shine.
During her long career, the actress and singer would rub shoulders with many of Egyptian cinema’s elite including Omar Sharif and Roshdi Abaza creating some of Egypt’s most memorable movies. Among them are “Too Young For Love,” Love Rumor,” and “Watch Out for ZouZou,” which are still watched and loved today.
On the 21st anniversary of her passing, we dedicate this article to her memory and share with you seven things you probably didn’t know about Egypt’s Cinderella.
Soad Hosny Had Kurdish & Syrian Heritage
Soad Hosny’s father, Muhammad Kamal Hosny, was of Kurdish descent from a prominent tribe that lived in Syria called the Al-Baba clan. Leaving Ottoman rule, his father decided to emigrate to Egypt taking his 18-year-old son with him along with his brothers and sister; and it’s in Cairo where Hosny would remain until his passing in 1969.
Like his daughters after him, Hosny had an artistic touch to him, as he quickly became a master calligrapher at the “Royal Institute of Calligraphy” in a few short years; he would go on to work on several projects including writing frames for silent films in the early years of the 21st century, leaving his mark in Egyptian cinema forever.
Hosny didn’t stop there, as he achieved much beyond the world of cinema, using his masterful calligraphic talent to write headlines for significant publications; he was also hired to write the information inside the personal identification cards of several prominent people such as Ismail Sedky, Prime Minister to King Foad the first, and Yusuf Zu-Al-Fuqar, father-in-law to the king.
She Was Brought Up In A Huge Family
Soad Hosny had a large family, and we mean LARGE family at least by today’s standards. For example, when her father married her mother, he already had eight children from a previous marriage, and would later have Soad along with her two sisters.
However, Soad’s family didn’t stop growing there, because after the actress’ parents got divorced, Soad’s mom got remarried to an Egyptian man named, Abdul Monem Hafeez, with whom she had six more children!
If you do the math, this brings the total of half and step-siblings to 14 and two blood relations; rounding up an overall total of 16!
Keeping The Art Alive Within The Family
Since their father was a master calligrapher, his home in Khan el Khalili became a hub for artists, musicians, painters, and other calligraphers who would come to visit or learn from him. These visits had an effect on the children who attended some of them; these constant visits inevitably made some of the children aspire to be artists in their own right, which many of them pursued.
Besides Soad, there was Nagah Muhammad Kamal Hosny, better known as Nagat A-Saghirah, who became a prominent singer and actress, and one of the most famous women during Egypt’s “Golden Age of Cinema.”
On the other hand, there was also Ezz Ed-Din Hosny, who became a respectable and well-known musician and composer. Over the years, he taught both his sisters Nagat and Soad how to sing and learn music; and would also compose several pieces of music for his sisters and other prominent singers such as Laila Mourad and Shadia.
Their brother, Sami Hosny, was also an artist in several avenues, he followed his father’s footsteps pursuing calligraphy as well as jewelry design and even played the cello, though he wasn’t as prominent as his other siblings.
Who Was Her True Love?
Hosny got married to four artists throughout her life, however, none of her marriages lasted with the exception of her last one that did until her passing in 2001.
Her ex-husbands include cinematographer Salah Kurayyem with whom their marriage only lasted a year, film director Ali Badrakhan lasted for 11 years, then there was the shortest ever with actor Zaki Fatin Abdel Wahab for five months, and finally, screenwriter Maher Awad from 1987 until her death.
However, for years rumors circulated that the actress was secretly married to Egyptian legend, Abdel Halim Hafez, and even though most of the Arab world shipped them, the actress and her family denied the rumors tooth and nail, with several friends of the actor’s friends denying that it ever happened long after her death.
A Center Stage Ready for A New Princess
Before the 1960s, Egyptian cinema had a prominent queen, Leila Murad, however, all that changed in 1955, when the actress abruptly retired creating a power vacuum that made the position ready for the taking. Enter Hosny, who made her debut in 1959, on the set of “Hasan and Naima,” where her talents were recognized leading to her getting more and more roles.
The young starlet was able to represent a lot of women at the time, as the acting scene was looking for an up-and-coming “girl next door” actress who would be relatable and eye-catching. Hosny indeed filled that role thanks to her beauty and charm, moving away from the damsel in distress or seductress tropes to portray a more modern and independent young woman.
Health Woes That Would Crush Anyone
Soad Hosny was very active during her career, she can be seen singing and dancing in several of her movies, unfortunately, in her later years, the actress’ health declined, forcing her to retire from acting altogether in 1991.
The star’s health faced several hurdles, including a bout with depression after the passing of poet Salah Jahin in 1986, as well as back pain due to deteriorating vertebrates, half her face was temporarily paralyzed due to a virus, and she even lost two babies during her lifetime putting her through a tough time, which would make many speculate her death a suicide later on.
A Death Fit For An Agatha Christie Novel
Hosny died on June 21, 2001, after falling from the balcony of an apartment belonging to her friend, Nadia Yousri, on the Stuart Building’s sixth floor in London, the UK. However, her passing caused controversy as rumors started to circulate that the singer/actress was either murdered or committed suicide for some mysterious reason. Some claim that she was depressed and felt that she wanted to end her life; others claim that Hosny was planning to publish her memoirs, and since she had something to look forward to, she couldn’t have jumped but was murdered due to something nefarious.
During an interview in 2021, late actor Samir Sabry stated that his theory was that she might have died accidentally inside the apartment and whoever did it, disposed of the body to make it look like a suicide. Unfortunately, we won’t know what really happened, only that her passing left many saddened.
Rest in peace, Cinderella.
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