OMAR SHARIF, A STAR IN ‘LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’
His death, at a hospital, was caused by a heart attack, said his agent, Steve Kenis.
Mr. Sharif — who later became as well known for his mastery of bridge as he was for his acting — was a commanding, darkly handsome presence onscreen. He was multilingual as well, and comfortable in almost any role or cultural setting.
He had appeared in a number of Egyptian films before the British director David Lean added him to the cast of “Lawrence of Arabia,” a freewheeling depiction of the real-life exploits of the British adventurer T. E. Lawrence, who led Arab fighters in a series of battles against Turkish occupiers. Peter O’Toole starred in the title role.
Mr. Sharif played the Arab warrior Sherif Ali, who joins forces with Lawrence. The scene depicting his arrival is widely regarded as a classic piece of cinematic art. In it he appears at first as a tiny speck on the desert horizon and then slowly approaches, until he materializes into a figure riding a camel. Mr. Sharif’s performance, in his first English-language film, brought him an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.
The 1960s proved to be Mr. Sharif’s best, busiest and most visible decade in Hollywood. In quick succession he appeared in “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964), as a king of ancient Armenia; “Behold a Pale Horse” (1964), as a priest during the Spanish Civil War; “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” (1965), as a Yugoslav patriot intent on saving his country from the Nazis; “Genghis Khan” (1965), as the conquering Mongol leader; “Doctor Zhivago” (1965), as a Russian physician-poet whose world is torn apart by war; “The Night of the Generals” (1967), as a German intelligence officer; “Funny Girl” (1968), as a shifty gambler, and — in a rare early-career misstep — the critical and box-office disaster “Che!” (1969), as the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, opposite Jack Palance as Fidel Castro.
World War II was the setting for “The Night of the Generals,” a drama about the Nazi high command in Warsaw that reunited Mr. Sharif and Mr. O’Toole. Mr. Sharif played a junior officer assigned to investigate a trio of generals, one of whom (Mr. O’Toole) has been killing prostitutes.
It was a long way from strife-torn Europe to the world of show business in New York, but Mr. Sharif made the leap when he played a dashing card shark in the movie version of the Broadway musical “Funny Girl.” Barbra Streisand, in her screen debut, starred as the singer and comedian Fanny Brice; Mr. Sharif played Nicky Arnstein, the gambler she falls in love with.
The involvement, both on and off screen, of Mr. Sharif and Ms. Streisand, a Jewish actress and a visible supporter of Israel, got him in trouble with the Egyptian authorities. Still, Mr. Sharif appeared with Ms. Streisand in a sequel, “Funny Lady,” in 1975, although James Caan as the showman Billy Rose was the romantic lead this time.
Omar Sharif was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932, into a well-to-do family in Alexandria, Egypt. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in mathematics and physics and worked for several years for the lumber company his father ran.
In the early 1950s he decided to capitalize on his good looks and ventured into film acting under the name Omar El-Sharif. He soon had a legion of fans, especially after co-starring with Faten Hamama, one of Egypt’s leading actresses. In 1955 he converted from Catholicism to Islam, and they were married soon after. They had a son, Tarek, who survives him, before separating in 1966 and divorcing in 1974. Ms. Hamama died in January. Further information on survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Sharif appeared in dozens of movies after the 1960s, but his film career was clearly headed downhill. He liked to gamble, became an aficionado of horse racing and spent more and more time playing competitive bridge. An expert on the game, he wrote a syndicated bridge column and a number of books on the subject, including “Omar Sharif’s Life in Bridge” (1983). His autobiography, “The Eternal Male,” written with Marie-Thérèse Guinchard, was published in 1977.
He was philosophical about the ups and downs of his career. “Look, I had it good and bad,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1995. “I did three films that are classics, which is very rare in itself, and they were all made within five years.”
He attributed his change of film fortune to what he called “the cultural revolution” at the end of the 1960s. “There was a rise of young, talented directors,” he added, “but they were making films about their own societies. There was no more room for a foreigner, so suddenly there were no more parts.”
There were in fact at least a few parts. Mr. Sharif continued to appear in films, many made for television. In “Pleasure Palace,” shown on CBS in 1980, he was a European playboy who comes to Las Vegas for a no-holds-barred gambling duel with a millionaire Texan. In the 1995 A&E film “Catherine the Great,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, he was a Russian prince.
His later films included “Monsieur Ibrahim” (2003), set in 1960s Paris, in which he played an aging Muslim grocer who befriends a rudderless Jewish teenager; and “Hidalgo” (2004), as an Arab sheik who invites an American cowboy (Viggo Mortensen) to participate in a survival race across the desert. His most recent film role was in the French family drama “Rock the Casbah” (2013).
In his later years, Mr. Sharif chose his parts carefully. “I decided,” he told The Times in 2003, “that I wanted to keep some dignity in my old age.”
He also insisted that age was no bar to remaining vital.
“My philosophy of life is that I’m living every moment intensely, as if it were the last moment,” he said. “I don’t think of what I did before or what I’m going to do. I think of what I’m doing right now.”
An earlier version of this obituary credited Mr. Sharif incorrectly with one film role. He did not appear in the 2008 movie “War, Inc.”
JERRY WEINTRAUB, A FORCE IN FILM AND MUSIC
The cause was cardiac arrest, his publicist said.
Once best known as a concert promoter and a music manager, Mr. Weintraub became a force in the film business with Mr. Altman’s “Nashville,” Barry Levinson’s “Diner” and Carl Reiner’s “Oh, God!” He joined in producing those movies in the 1970s and ’80s, before a crippling business failure temporarily halted his Hollywood career.
A longtime intimate of former President George H. W. Bush — initially a friend of Mr. Weintraub’s second wife, the torch singer Jane Morgan — Mr. Weintraub made himself into a myth by combining his three hallmarks: political access, Hollywood success and relentless charm. That persona was cemented both in a 2010 memoir, written with Rich Cohen, called “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories From a Persuasive Man,” and “His Way,” a 2011 HBO documentary about his career.
“All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage,” Mr. Weintraub wrote in his memoir. “I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: ‘Jerry Weintraub Presents.’ ”
Mr. Weintraub hit a peak in 1984 with “The Karate Kid,” which spawned three sequels and a spinoff TV series and became Mr. Weintraub’s best Hollywood door-opener. “I used to tease him about being a black belt name-dropper,” Mr. Bush said in a statement on Monday. “But he did seem to know everyone in showbiz.”
Jerome Charles Weintraub was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 26, 1937, and grew up in the Bronx. In a story he told over the years, he learned how to spin facts — or nonfacts — from his jeweler father, Samuel Weintraub, who promoted his business with tall tales. As Mr. Weintraub told the story, one highly promoted sapphire was actually “a piece of junk,” but his father named it the Star of Ardavan and took it on tour.
Mr. Weintraub skipped college to join the Air Force and, after serving, got a job as a page at NBC. Soon he was working as an assistant to Lew Wasserman at MCA, the talent agency. But climbing rungs was not his style. By 1964 he had struck out with a couple of friends to start a management company.
How exactly he got involved with Elvis Presley is a story that changed at his own telling and retelling over the years. This much is true: Mr. Weintraub somehow gained the confidence of Col. Tom Parker, who managed Presley, and helped engineer a successful concert tour — so successful that, by 1972, Mr. Weintraub was similarly working with Sinatra.
By the early 1970s, Mr. Weintraub’s roster of music clients had grown to include Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues and John Denver. Mr. Denver, with George Burns, starred in “Oh, God!,” enhancing Mr. Weintraub’s film career, though they eventually parted acrimoniously.
Behind his bombast and camaraderie, Mr. Weintraub struggled through personal friction with Ms. Morgan, from whom he separated decades ago but whom he never divorced, and business turmoil, which led to the bankruptcy of his Weintraub Entertainment Group in 1990.
The bankruptcy was a painful public embarrassment: It followed a heavily publicized effort to build an independent film studio with about $500 million in financing from large backers like Columbia Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Corporation, and a failed bailout that involved prominent financial players, including the junk bond king Michael Milken, the Bear Stearns investment banking firm and the European bank Crédit Lyonnais.
The collapse followed overspending and some flops, including Richard Benjamin’s “My Stepmother Is an Alien.” And it occurred during the first Bush presidency, when Mr. Weintraub’s excesses — he lived high in Malibu, Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, and was chauffeured about in several Rolls-Royce automobiles — drew attention far outside of Hollywood.
In 1997, Mr. Weintraub, trying to rebound, failed again, with a forgettable Chevy Chase comedy, “Vegas Vacation.”
Yet he came back to the table and found one of the biggest film franchises of the 2000s, pulling together an ensemble of megawatt stars — Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts — for the “Ocean’s Eleven” casino heist trilogy. It took in more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office for Warner Bros., which had helped Mr. Weintraub build a new production company to succeed his failed studio.
Among his philanthropies, throughout his business life, Mr. Weintraub was known for organizing and appearing on annual telethons for Chabad, the religious and charitable group.
Mr. Clooney, speaking to Vanity Fair magazine in 2008, compared Mr. Weintraub to a force of nature, which is how most people in Hollywood referred to him over the years — a character that stood out even among characters. “He’s a hurricane,” Mr. Clooney said. (On Monday, Mr. Clooney in a statement said, in part: “To those who didn’t know him, we send our deepest sympathy. You would have loved him.”)
He delivered a successful “Karate Kid” remake as recently as 2010, and left behind another possible blockbuster in “Tarzan,” which Warner Bros. plans to release next summer. But Mr. Weintraub found his biggest late-career success in television.
“Behind the Candelabra,” an HBO movie that starred Mr. Douglas as Liberace and was directed by Mr. Soderbergh, won 11 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.
His survivors include Ms. Morgan and four children: Michael, Julie, Jamie and Jody.
At the Globes ceremony in 2014, Mr. Weintraub showed up to claim his honors in much-photographed jeweled and embroidered tuxedo slippers. His appearance capped the success of “Behind the Candelabra,” a project that seemed made to order: A stranger-than-fiction show business story set in a bygone era where themes as outré as cross-dressing and drug use were cheerfully absorbed by a public that just wanted to be entertained.
An obituary on Tuesday about the movie producer and former concert promoter Jerry Weintraub misstated the year he began working with Frank Sinatra. It was 1972, not 1968.SOURCE
BONARD FOWLER, ALABAMA OFFICER IN SHOOTING THAT LED TO SELMA MARCH
For more than four decades, though, the crime itself was largely ignored. Justice for Mr. Jackson was deferred, largely because of what distinguished his case from those of other black Americans killed at the hands of Southern whites back then. In his case, the suspect was not only white but also a law-enforcement officer.
It was not until March 6, 2005, in an interview with The Anniston Star, that the officer, Bonard Fowler, by then a former Alabama state trooper, acknowledged publicly that he had fired the shot that felled Mr. Jackson. He insisted that he had acted in self-defense. Two years later, a grand jury convened by Alabama’s only black district attorney indicted Mr. Fowler on charges of murder. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor manslaughter, apologized and served five months in jail.
He died at 81 on Sunday, a few months after President Obama led a delegation to Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when peaceful demonstrators trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a Confederate general, were clubbed, bullwhipped and tear-gassed by state troopers and sheriff’s deputies.
The Bottoms Garden Chapel Funeral Home in Geneva, Ala., confirmed Mr. Fowler’s death, saying the family would release no other information. He had dementia, his daughter told The Daily News this year, and he lived near Black, Ala.
James Bonard Fowler, familiarly known by his middle name, was born on Sept. 10, 1933. He served in the Navy, attended the University of Alabama and joined the State Police in 1961, according to The Associated Press.
He was a 31-year-old state trooper in 1965 when local civil rights strategists concluded that they could generate more publicity for their cause in Marion, which appeared to be more of a racial tinderbox, than in Selma.
They were met by a wall of local and state law enforcement officers and ordered to disperse.
Suddenly the streetlights went dark. A melee ensued. Protesters were clubbed, and some sought refuge at Mack’s. Among them were Mr. Jackson’s grandfather, Cager Lee, 82, and his mother, Viola Jackson. When Mr. Jackson rushed to rescue his mother, he was shoved against a cigarette machine and shot twice in the stomach. He died eight days later.
“Jimmie Lee Jackson was proclaimed a martyr and buried in a country graveyard here today,” The New York Times reported.
Five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
David Garrow, a scholar of the civil rights movement and the author, among other books, of “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” said Mr. Jackson’s death was the impetus for the marches from Selma to Montgomery.
“It is this decisive casualty which starts the whole ball rolling, but for 40 years of the half-century since then, no one knew who the gunman was,” Mr. Garrow, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said in an interview.
The deaths the next month in Alabama of two white civil rights advocates, Viola Liuzzo and the Rev. James J. Reeb, helped galvanize a nationwide movement. But, Professor Garrow said, “Jackson’s death received vastly less attention because he was black.”
In the initial investigations into the shootings, Mr. Fowler was identified by the authorities only by his last name. Two grand juries failed to indict him. The Star revealed his identity after he agreed to be interviewed by the newspaper’s editor at large, John Fleming.
In that interview, Mr. Fowler admitted that he had shot Mr. Jackson but asserted that Mr. Jackson had been brandishing a bottle and was reaching for Mr. Fowler’s gun.
“Jimmie Lee Jackson was not murdered,” the paper quoted him as saying. “He was trying to kill me. I have no doubt in my mind that, under the emotional situation at the time, that if he would have gotten complete control of my pistol, he would have killed me or shot me. That’s why my conscience is clear.”
Mr. Fleming said Mr. Fowler “consistently maintained he was carrying out the orders of his superiors and ultimately of George Wallace,” the governor of Alabama at the time.
While Mr. Fleming described Mr. Fowler as “an extremely intelligent, well-read man and not some ignorant redneck,” he quoted him as saying: “I don’t believe in completely mixing the races. I don’t think that is gonna help anything.” His wife was from Southeast Asia.
In the interview he complained that blacks “won’t hesitate to wear their colors — green, black and red — but they will get mad if you put the Confederate flag on the front of your car.”
According to The Star’s account, in 1966 Mr. Fowler shot and killed another unarmed black man, who he said had attacked him with a billy club in a local jail after being arrested during a traffic stop in Alabaster, Ala. In 1968 Mr. Fowler was fired for assaulting a supervisor.
That same year, Mr. Fowler said, he enlisted in the military to avenge the death of his brother, Robert, who had been killed in combat in Vietnam. Assigned to his brother’s rifle company, Mr. Fowler received two Silver Stars and a Purple Heart.
After the war he married and established a home and family in Thailand. There, in the late 1980s, he helped the American military authorities expose a murder-for-hire plot. He was later arrested at the Bangkok airport on charges of heroin trafficking and imprisoned. He said he had been framed.
In 2007, when Mr. Fowler was indicted in the shooting of Mr. Jackson, his lawyer, George Beck, cautioned, “We have to be real careful in discriminating between those acts of intentional violence as opposed to the trooper who’s trying to protect the public, who may be trying to act on orders of his supervisor.”
After accepting a misdemeanor charge in a plea bargain, Mr. Fowler was sentenced to six months in jail but released after five, for health reasons.
“He admitted his guilt, he apologized to the family for what he had done, and he served some time,” said Michael W. Jackson, the district attorney who had obtained the indictment. “It helped bring closure to the family and to history.”
Mr. Fleming, the Star editor who is now the executive editor of the Center for Sustainable Journalism in Kennesaw, Ga., agreed with that sentiment.
“One thing we’ve never experienced in the South is anything close to a truth and reconciliation commission,” he told The Times in 2010 after Mr. Fowler formally acknowledged his guilt. “What happened today was a moment of that experience.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
(July 2, 1919)
(July 2, 1961)
(July 2, 1989)
(July 2, 1997)
(July 6, 1971)
(July 9, 1974)
(July 10, 1979)
(July 14, 1965)
(July 17, 1903)
(July 17, 1959)
(July 21, 1998)
(July 23, 1885)
(July 23, 1999)
(July 26, 1952)
(July 27, 1946)
(July 29, 1981)