The maker of joy and the queen of comedy, which was distinguished by her wit and her distinctive look on the screen, she broke into people’s hearts and drew a smile on their faces. She presented a lot of comedic masterpieces that left a big imprint with the audience. The sarcastic sentences that she recited in her films have been preserved by everyone and passed down from generation to generation until today. It is not possible to mention comedy in Egyptian cinema without mentioning its name. She is the actress Zeinat Sedky, the most famous person who embodied the role of spinster in films, until she was dubbed “The Spinster of Egyptian cinema”. She also won many other titles, including “The Trump Comedy Card” and “Bint Al Balad”.
On the anniversary of her death, which falls on March 2, we wanted to highlight the most prominent stations in the life of Zeinat Sedky, who oscillated between prosperity and distress at other times. Despite the great fame and fortune, the situation changed after she kept her away from the spotlight, and her harsh conditions accompanied her until the last moments of her life.
Her birth and Early Life
Her real name is Zeinab Mohamed Saad El-Fouly, and she was born on May 4, 1912, in the El Gomrok neighborhood in Alexandria. She was born to a family of 4 sisters, a housewife mother named Hafida Hassan, and a father who works as a merchant.
When she was young, she joined the book and memorized the Qur’an. She joined the public speaking group in elementary school, and won the Ministry of Education’s public speaking competition award. However, she did not complete her education, as her father pulled her out of school at the age of twelve under the influence of his older brother because her beauty became attractive, and he married her early. Therefore, Zeinat Sedky was interested in educating herself, so she hired a French woman to teach her the French language, piano playing, and etiquette.
Her film career
Zeinat Sedky learned dancing and singing at the “Ansar Ansar and Horsemanship” Institute, which was founded by Zaki Tulaimat. She began her artistic career by singing monologues in nightclubs in Alexandria. Then I decided to move to Cairo to look for a better job opportunity. She worked in Badia Masabni casino, for which she chose to dance rather than sing. When her family objected to her work in art, she changed her name to Zeinab Sedky, using the family name of her close friend, Khairiya Sedky. She traveled with her to Lebanon in search of a job opportunity in the field of acting. Until she met the artist Najib Al-Rihani by chance in 1935, where he hired her one night after Mary Munib apologized for playing her role in one of the plays due to her illness, and when she surprised everyone with her impressive performance, Al-Rihani decided to include her in his band, and asked Badi Khairy to write her own role in the play. He chose the name Zeinat for her to prevent her from being confused with another artist called “Zeinab Sedky”.
Zeenat Sedky has been working in the Rihani band for many years. She also worked with Youssef Wehbe’s band during the breaks in Al-Rihani’s plays. Zeinat Sedky stopped working in the theater after Rihani’s death in 1949. This pause continued until 1954, when Ismail Yassin created a theater group, and asked her to work in his group, where she performed 6 plays with them, before retiring from the theater completely in 1960.
Debut in Cinema
Najib Al-Rihani wanted to take advantage of the resounding success that Zeinat Sedky had achieved on the stage, so he included her in the cast of the movie “Basalameh Wants to Get Married”, which was her starting point in the cinema. To be followed by more than 170 films. She was famous for the characters of the cheerful country girl, the heroine’s chivalrous friend, or the talkative maid, as well as the character of the spinster girl who is over the age of thirty without marriage and seeks to obtain a groom by any means.
Among the most important films in which I participated are “Ghazl Al Banat, Idol of the Masses, Our Sweet Days, Love Street, Hanna Dates, Efrat Hanim, Four Girls and an Officer, Hassan, Marcos and Cohen, Dahab, The Girl of the Great, A Rendezvous with Life, The Heart Has Judgments, I’m Going, Bride for Rent, Millionaire, Dew Drop, Wife Killing Society. She formed a successful duet with the artist Ismail Yassin, and had a large share of participating in his famous comedies, including: “Ibn Hamido, Miss Hanafi, the Green Threshold, the women’s barber, the women don’t know how to lie, the bridegroom of my wife, Abu Oyoun boldly, Miss Mama, the demon of Ismail Yassin, Ismail Yassin in the police, Ismail Yassin in the fleet, Ismail Yassin in the garden of animals, Ismail Yassin in the animal garden. Insane Hospital, Ismail Yassin Secret Police.
With time, Zeinat Sedky gradually disappeared from the artistic scene, and appeared only in a few works. Her last artwork was the movie “A Girl Her Name Mahmoud” in 1975. In which she participated with a large group of artists, including Suhair Ramzy, Samir Sabry, Mohamed Reda and Samir Ghanem. She agreed to participate in after pressure from her sisters, but she was very sad because of it because she was not treated well in accordance with her history. She came back from the shoot crying and said: “This is not my value or my status. This way I am wasting my history.” That is why she did not accept other roles after him.
List of the 100 best films in the history of cinema
Three films, in which Zeinat Sedky participated, were selected in the list of the 100 best films in the history of Egyptian cinema. Those films are:
The movie “Ghazal Al Banat”, produced in 1949. Starring Laila Murad, Najib Al-Rihani, Youssef Wehbe, Mahmoud Al-Meligy, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Anwar Wagdy. It is written by Badi’ Khairy and Najib Al-Rihani, and directed by Anwar Wagdy. It ranks number 9 on the list.
The movie “our good days” produced in 1955. Starring Faten Hamama, Abdel Halim Hafez, Omar Sharif and Ahmed Ramzy. It is written and directed by Helmy Halim. It ranks number 83 on the list.
The movie “The mountain” produced in 1965. Starring Samira Ahmed, Laila Fawzy, Omar Hariri and Salah Kabil. It is written by Fathi Ghanem, directed by Khalil Shawky and Sobhi Abdel Aziz. It ranks number 94 on the list.
Zeinat Sedky was known in the artistic community as “the spinster of Egyptian cinema” because of her mastery of performing that character in many of her films. However, in her personal life, she was not a spinster at all, as she was married twice. The first marriage was to her cousin, a doctor who is 17 years older than her, and she was only 13 years old at the time, and her father insisted on her marrying him after he took her out of school. The divorce took place between them after one year of marriage because of his bad treatment of her, especially after the death of her father. As for the second marriage, she was with one of the Free Officers, who was constantly attending to watch her plays with the Rihani Troupe, and she fell in love with him and married him. But the divorce took place between them after he asked her to give up her mother and send her to live with her sister or to live in a home for the elderly. Zeinat Sidqi’s reaction was to hit him on the head with the phone, so he divorced her on the spot.
Zeinat Sidqi did not have any children, but she adopted “Nadra”, her sister’s daughter, “Sunya” and lived with her from her birth until she got married and gave birth to her twins, “Tariq and Azza”, whom Zeinat Sedqi considered her grandchildren and took care of them and their upbringing.
Zeinat Sedky went through many ups and downs during her life, where she achieved great fame and participated in many successful works. However, she suffered from a lack of work towards the end of her life. She lived out of the limelight after years of artistic brilliance. She faced many crises before her death. Her last days were filled with pain and sadness as she suffered from loneliness and illness. She was exposed to financial crises after taxes were imposed on her, so she sold her valuables so that she could manage her expenses and take care of her family. Despite the narrow situation, Karima continued to help everyone who needed her, as she had in her good days.
Awards and Honors
Zeinat Sedky was honored by the Ministry of Culture on Flag Day in 1966, at the request of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat also honored her in 1976 on Art Day.
Her illness and and death
Before her death, Zeinat Sedky suffered from pneumonia. Before you left our world on March 2, 1978, at the age of 66. After a journey of artistic giving, her name was immortalized among the giants of art and comedy in the memory of Egyptian cinema. She was buried in the cemetery that she bought and put a sign on it, “The Vault of Charity and Passers-by”. In it, she buried all of her fellow artists who died and whose family did not have a burial, and every poor or passerby who did not find a burial for him.