Happy Birthday Ahmed Zaki!!!

Google today dedicates a beautiful doodle to Ahmed Zaki on his 71st birthday. He is one of Egyptian cinema’s most iconic leading men and was characterized by his talent, skill, and ability in impersonating.

Ahmed Zaki (originally named Ahmed Zaki Metwally Abdelrahman Badawi) was born in the city of Zagazig, about 50 miles north of Cairo, Egypt on November 18, 1949. Nicknamed the ‘Black Tiger’ after his titular role in a 1984 boxing film, Ahmed Zaki was one of the first dark-skinned actors to play leading roles in Egyptian films and helped to change the face of the Arab film industry forever.

In the beginning of his career Ahmed Zaki appeared in a number of plays, most notably the comedy Hello, Shalaby and Madrasat al-Mushaghibin (School of the Rowdies), a production that served as a launching pad for many prominent Egyptian actors.

Ahmed Zaki made his first film, Abnaa Elsamt (Children of Silence), in 1974. By 1980 he had made six films, including (Alexandria, Why?) with Egypt’s best known director, Youssef Chahine. Zaki appeared in more than 60 films throughout his career.

Ahmed Zaki went on to act in more than 60 films and two dozen plays across his career that spanned over three decades. He also starred in a series of successful action movies during the mid-and late-1990s. Two of his greatest successes were playing Egypt’s presidents in two popular movies that became landmarks of Arabic cinema.

Ahmed Zaki’s contributions to the world of Egyptian films include boxing gloves for Al Nimr Al Aswad (The Black Tiger), a crab symbolizing Kaboria (The Crab), a camera for Edhak El-Sora Tetlaa’ Helwa (Smile, the Picture Will Come Out Fine), and the animals from Arba’a Fi Muhimma Rasmiya (Four on an Official Mission). He was known for taking on films that touched upon socio-political issues and earned acclaim for his nuanced portrayals of complex historical figures.

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Ahmed Zaki was seen as an icon and spokesperson for the average Egyptian youth, he was also considered the heir to Farid Shawki as Malek El Terso (“The King of the Third Class” – a reference to his popularity among the poor, who bought third-class seats in movie theatres) in an Egyptian magazine.

Zaki was a heavy smoker. He had been in intensive care at Dar Al Fouad Hospital in Sixth of October City. The then President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak wanted to send him to France for medical treatment at the government’s expense but the actor died of lung cancer complications on March 27, 2005. He was only 55.

A book about Zaki has been released under the title of Ahmad Zaki wa Symphoniet Ibda (Ahmad Zaki: A Symphonic Innovation Masterpiece). It provides detailed information of his acting career in a form of articles by different critics including Tareq Al Shinawi, Mohammad Al Shafe’ee and Waleed Saif.

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