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Covid-19: Egypt mourns actress Ragaa el-Gedawy

The Egyptian film star passed away this July at the age of 85 in the wake of Covid-19. She had just shot a TV series in May.

Although she rarely starred in the films in which she played, Ragaa el-Gedawy was nonetheless a real star of the big and small screen in Egypt. Much loved by her fellow citizens, for almost 60 years and some 300 roles, she radiated her smile and grace in Egyptian cinema from her golden age in 1950 to the present day.

Born in 1934 to a lawyer father who divorced her mother shortly afterwards, she grew up in Cairo with her sister, both raised by their aunt, famous belly dancer Tahia Carioca. Her education in private institutes made her a polyglot with a command of French, English and Italian. She began her career by doing odd jobs as a translator before winning a beauty contest in 1958 which opened the doors of showbiz to her.


An international influence

From then on, a series of more prestigious roles followed, starting with The Nightingale’s Prayer, which was the Egyptian candidate for the Academy Awards that year. We find her again a few years later, in 1960, in the film Rumor of Love, after a brief stint in Europe, particularly in France, where she tried her hand at modeling.


A strong comeback

It was not until much later, in the 1990s, after her marriage to an Egyptian footballer, that her career was given a new lease of life through theatre. Alongside Adel Imam, a comic actor dear to Egypt, she found her way back to the stage on several occasions.

She leaves behind her the memory of a humble and relentless professional, who did not hesitate to pile up projects within the same year. The very last one, a TV series entitled Game of Oblivion was shot in May, just before the star announced that she had tested positive for the new coronavirus that has been hitting the world for several months now. Hard blow for all the fans of this legend of the Egyptian cinema, including belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, who expressed his sadness on social media…