Egypt and the entire Arab world were immensely saddened by the loss of legendary comedian Samir Ghanem last month. With more than 300 acting projects on the stage, the big screen and on television to his credit, Ghanem consistently made his audiences laugh to tears. Here’s a look down memory lane with Ghanem’s most memorable performances through the decades!
Ghanem started out in the 60s as part of the now legendary stand-up comedy trio, Tholathy Adwa’ El Masrah, alongside El Deif Ahmed and George Sidhom. The comedic trio achieved amazing success on stage and went on to the big screen where they starred in 17 hit films through the years! These films include Shate’ El Marah (Beach of Fun), 30 Youm Fel Segn (30 Days in Prison), Al Qahira Fel Leil (Cairo at Night) and Rehlet El Saada (Trip of Happiness), among many others. Ghanem also took part in films such as Saghira Al Hob (Too Young for Love), Al Shaqiqan (The Siblings), Akher Genaan (Craziness) and Al Moghameron Al Talata (The Three Adventurers). While new to the film industry, it was already apparent that his movie career was taking off.
Despite his successes in the 60s, Ghanem’s career was yet to reach its peak despite participating in more than 30 projects in that decade. After proving himself in comedy, he wanted to try his hand at more dramatic roles to prove he was a serious actor. He took on roles in films like Al Sadiqan (The Two Friends) and El Sarab (The Mirage). At the same time, he continued doing comedy, which people loved him most for! Some of his biggest comedy hits during that decade included the super successful Al Motazawegon (The Married Couple), a play that achieved iconic status, as well as the legendary Madraset El Moshaghbeen (The School of Mischiefs) and El Mohem El Hob (What Matters is Love), which were the first of Ghanem’s collaborations with the legendary comedian, Adel Emam, and which sparked their lifelong friendship.
In the 80s, Ghanem started the decade off by taking over TV’s famous Fawazeer Ramadan, playing his iconic character, Fatouta, in 1982. Shortly after, Ghanem took part in some marriage-themed films like Aroosa Wa Gooz Arsan (A Bride & a Couple of Grooms) and Nehayet Ragol Tazawag (The End of a Man Who Got Married). Ironically, Ghanem married the love of his life, actress Dalal Abdelaziz, shortly thereafter, and the loving couple became Egypt’s favourite funny couple. Topping this decade for Ghanem was the arrival of his two beautiful baby girls. And, of course, the girls, Donia and Amy, grew up to become amazing comedians in their own right!
Becoming a husband and father didn’t get in the way of Ghanem’s career. He didn’t let marriage get in the way of his wife’s career either. The couple became an acting duo in comedic films like El Regala Fe Khatar (Men Are in Danger) and El Raqesa Wel Hanouty (The Dancer & the Undertaker), while Ghanem also continued to star in plays, like Akhoya Hayes Wana Layes (My Brother is Having Fun & I’m Tired), Sadia Waraya Waraya (Sadia is After Me) and Bahlool in Istanbul. Clearly, Ghanem’s career was reaching several peaks in the 90s and as the new millennium approached, Ghanem began to feel the need to take a much-needed break to focus on his family life.
As Y2K rolled in, Ghanem started to slow down a bit career-wise, by choice. He did not totally disappear, and his fans did not have to miss him for too long. During this decade, he took part in the film, Do Re Me Fasolya (Do Re Me Beans), as well as in the TV series Ensa Eley Fat Ya Farahat (Forget the Past Farahat) and Abdelhamid Academy. Using his big name to encourage new talent, Ghanem also guest-starred alongside young comedians in films like Waraqet Shafra (Code Word), Mafish Fayda (There’s No Use) and Ala Gamb Yasta (Drop Me Off Here, Driver). The decade also saw Ghanem watch his oldest daughter Donia, kick off her own acting career and become one of the fresh faces in the industry.
By 2010, Ghanem was taking a backseat watching his daughters’ paths to success as they became the queens of Egyptian comedy. He especially enjoyed guest-starring with Donia and Amy in their shows, delightfully stealing the scene without taking the spotlight away from them. Among these shows was Donia’s biggest Ramadan hit, Lahfa, as well as Fel La La Land (In La La Land) and Badal Al Hadouta Talata (Three Tales Are Better Than One). A special landmark of the decade was also Ghanem’s on-screen reunion with one of his closest friends, Adel Emam, in the TV series Awalaem Khafeya (Hidden Figures). Finally, in 2020, Ghanem came full circle in his career, ending it as he started it, on stage, with his final play, El Zahr Lama Yel’ab (When Luck Finds You).