Taheya Karioka (1974)
With every rhythmic swing of her hips and every sultry gaze, infamous Egyptian belly dancer Taheya Karioka always managed to grab the attention of the Egyptian public. Dance was not her only foray as her face was known to grace the screen and stage of over 200 productions, taking on starkly different roles in many of her projects. From a young age, she was a firecracker, running away to Cairo from Ismailiyah to pursue her dreams where she met Badee’a Masabny, a Syrian Lebanese singer and dancer who owned the casino where Karioka danced and amazed the guests in attendance. The moment the dancer performed a perfect rendition of the Brazilian Kariokka, she earned her infamous name and shot to fame back in the 40s.
Seeing the star once again in a special interview filmed back in 1974 is a real treat. Unlike her flamboyant stage presence, in this TV appearance, we see a different version of the dancer, a more modest, toned down yet equally captivating Kairoka glammed up in with a large bob, glasses and printed shirt. Standing overhead is a large microphone picking up and magnifying her voice as she answers well-crafted questions like “Tell me about Taheya the human being.” Her replies were laced with purity and honesty, like how she described herself offscreen as a simple person who enjoys the company of others and simply lives her life. It is truly a refreshing untapped look unlike her dance performances and cinematic appearances.
Faten Hamama (1964)
Gracing the screen from when she was only seven years old, Faten Hamama was always loved and adored as the “Lady of the Arab Silver Screen.” From the moment she appeared in the 1940 flick “A Happy Day” up until her final role in 1993’s “The Land of Dreams”, she remained an indisputable talent that struck a special cord with anyone who watched her on the silver screen.
Seeing her once again during the 60s, a time when she was still in her prime is a gem in and of itself but also seeing her elegantly and fluently conducting the interview in French adds to the significance of the appearance. Making a raw appearance in a French television program, we see the star elegantly taking a stroll in a seaside town while the voice of the French presenter booms out as he introduces Hamama, emphasizing how he has met many stars during interviews yet she was in a different league entirely. Short and snappy, the entire interview revolved around a series of quick questions that offer a comprehensive understanding of the key facets of her impressive career.
Ahmed Ramzy (1964)
Throughout his career, he was always seen as a charming gentleman, with his charismatic smile and trademark glint, it was impossible not to blush or fawn over him. He exemplified the epitome of an old-school star and by simply entering a room, heads would turn to witness the star. Meet Ahmed Ramzy, the star who broke into the film industry back in 1955 in ‘Ayamna El Helwa’ alongside Faten Hamama and became a symbol of the charismatic bad boy and rough troublemaker with his classic open shirt and electrifying grin.
Today, we get to see him once again dominating the screen in a rare appearance with Lily Rostom. The entire 42 minutes felt more like a casual chat between two people rather than a prepared interview. In the clip, we get to see Ramzy sitting next to Rostom behind a small desk. Let’s just say, a few minutes in, Rostom herself could not resist Ramzy’s charm and immediately went on to tease him about his open shirt. To this day, everyone still remembers the rumor of how that very interview might have played a role in ending Rostom’s marriage to her husband at the time, scandalous much?
Soad Hosny (1974)
The epitome of style and grace is our very own golden age starlet, Soad Hosny who was known and loved as “The Cinderella of Egyptian Cinema.” She was seen as the saving grace of the cinematic world once Leila Mourad retired back in 1955 and was the perfect star to fill in that void left by Mourad. A chameleon on the screen, she would put on different eclectic roles as though it as natural as donning a new dress. Whether it’s an adolescent in “Rumor of Love” (1960), a relatable sister in “The Girls and the Summer” (1960) or a tough country woman adamant on not bowing down to oppression in the “Second Wife” (1967); the audience adored her and she kept at it, starring in 82 films by 1991.
Taking a leap a few years ahead to 1974, two years after the star slayed the screen when she played top student Zouzou in the instant smash hit “Take Care of Zouzou”, we get to see the star in a rare appearance sitting alongside Mohammed Ibrahim, a Qatari TV presenter. Despite the extremely saturated footage and awkward panning, Hosny still manages to captivate your attention and throughout the interview had a calm and modest way to her when speaking. Through the interview, you’ll get to learn about how she started out and how initially she wanted to be a singer but found her true calling in the big screen. It’s a great way to get to know the artist and while watching the interview, it will feel akin to her coming back from the 70s and having a friendly chat with you in your living room.
Farid Shawky (1964)
Known as the “Monster of the Screen”, Farid Shawky was the kind of star who managed to pave a name for himself as the ultimate bad body, with more than 300 films under his belt. He had the audience hooked and knew how to play with their emotions whether it’s through donning his evil mask and stirring rage or raising laughter when he’d tap into his comedic chops.
Stepping back to 1964, we get an untapped raw look into Shawky at a time when he was still in the prime of his career. By then, he has become cemented into this typecast role of playing a criminal. At the very start of the interview, the interviewer found out that he will once again play the role of a fraudster and swindler in the film “Al-Nasabeen Al-Thalatha”, so her immediate reaction was a simple question “Again?” Unlike interviews of today, there was this sort of slow and natural nature to Shawky’s chat with the interviewer making it a really fun and relaxed type of watch.
Omar El Sherif (1963)
Born to be behind the screen, the legendary Omar El Sherif became the Arab cinema’s first major crossover star who was able to catapult into international fame following his role in 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia”. The multi-lingual star had an interesting start as he according to renowned film director Amir Ramsis, El Sherif’s shoot to fame was a combination of sheer luck and an encounter with the legendary director, Youssef Chahine. All throughout the 50s, El Sherif became a key fixture in Chahine’s films starring in major hits like 1954’s “The Blazing Sun”, cementing himself as a major cinematic star.
Jumping to 1963, a year after his major international break in “Lawrence of Arabia”, we see the star in a rare and intimate appearance, camera close up to his face as he engaged in a 10-minute interview. Throughout its duration, the star responded fluently in French while looking directly at the camera, his eyes piercing the screen as it does in any of his cinematic works. The international interview is a testament to how his talent managed to surpass borders, cultures, and languages.
Rare interviews like these act as time capsules that attempt to hold onto a collection of people who left yet continue to leave a significant mark on the Egyptian and Arab community at large. As time capsules they truly showcase how much has changed in the world of entertainment back then 30 to 40-minute interviews were the norm while today, snappy, flashy, and quick TV appearances are what’s popular.
Beyond these interviews, today the stars are locked onto our memories in even more ways including the timeless nature of a snapped photograph. During Cairo Photo Week, golden age stars were celebrated through the lens of renowned photojournalist, Farouk Ibrahim. On display were candid, never before seen pictures of stars like Rushdy Abaza and Soad Hosny; just like the interviews, these photos manage to take us back and remind us of our favorite legends who have graced our screen.