On November 25, the birthday of the artist Asmahan, who captured the hearts of the masses with the beauty of her face, kind smile and sweet voice, will be celebrated. Everyone predicted her a great future, but their predictions were dashed and her career ended early. Despite her few years of life and her short artistic career, she has reserved a great place for herself among the stars, and has become one of the classics of Egyptian and Arab art. Since she was the descendant of a family of princes, she inherited the emirate from them, so critics called her the “Princess of Singing and Singing” and “Princess of the Mountain”. On her birthday, we review with you in this report the most prominent stations in Asmahan’s artistic and personal life.
Her Birth & Early Life
Asmahan, whose original name was Amal Fahd Ismail al-Atrash, was born on November 25, 1912, on a steamer heading from Turkey to Beirut. She is the sister of the artist Farid al-Atrash, her father is a Druze from Jabal al-Druze in Syria, and her mother, Princess Alia al-Mundhir, was a Lebanese Druze. After the Great Syrian Revolution, she was forced to flee with her children from Syria, so she traveled to Egypt, where she resided in the Faggala area, and went through harsh conditions that forced her to work as a singer in weddings and private parties, so that she could raise her children.
Asmahan’s artistic start came when the great musician Daoud Hosni was visiting the home of the artist Farid Al-Atrash, and he heard her singing by chance and admired her voice. He decided to change her name, so he called her “Asmahan”, which belongs to a singer who died in her prime before becoming famous. In 1931, Asmahan began to sing with her brother in the “Mary Mansour” casino on Emad El Din Street, and she began to become famous and her star shined in the sky of Arabic song. Some considered her a strong competitor to Umm Kulthum. But she retired from art for several years, because of her marriage and her return to Syria.
Three spouses, one of whom is a common-law marriage
Asmahan complied with her family’s marriage traditions, and married her cousin, Prince Hassan al-Atrash, in 1934. At the request of her older brother Fouad, who was at odds with her because of his refusal to work in art with their brother, the artist Farid al-Atrash. Asmahan moved to Syria to settle in Jabal al-Druze with her husband, and became the princess of the mountain for 6 years, during which she gave birth to her only daughter, Camelia. But disagreements erupted between them and a separation occurred, so she returned to Egypt. In 1941, Asmahan met the director, Ahmed Badrakhan, and married him according to the common law, because of the Egyptian laws that prevented any legal authority from marrying an Egyptian to a foreigner. The marriage quickly fell apart, and ended in divorce only 40 days later. As for her last husband, director Ahmed Salem, they married while they were on a visit to Jerusalem. It is said that she wanted to marry him so that she could regain the Egyptian nationality that she had lost when she married Prince Hassan al-Atrash. But because of her rebellion and independence, Asmahan refused the restrictions that he imposed on her, and disagreements erupted between them because of his exaggerated jealousy. One day, a sharp dispute arose between them, and Ahmed Salem pointed the weapon in her face, which made her ask the police to rescue her from him, and then they divorced.
Collaboration with British intelligence
In 1941 Asmahan cooperated with British intelligence, after British government officials asked her to help bring down the pro-German Vichy French government. By exploiting her Druze origin to persuade the leaders of the Druze Mountain not to attack the British armies, and to allow its forces to enter Syria and Lebanon, in return for Britain’s pledge to liberate them. With the help of her ex-husband, Hassan al-Atrash, Ismahan was able to carry out the task entrusted to her. Then to discover the deception of Britain, which decided to divide Syria and Lebanon on the Allied forces. At that point, Asmahan was accused of treason by her family and her country, and she wanted to avenge her dignity by contacting the Germans to agree on landing German forces on the Syrian coast to eliminate the Allied forces. However, British intelligence tracked her down, arrested her and placed her under house arrest in Beirut, until Asmahan managed to escape to Jerusalem and then returned to Cairo.
Entering the world of cinema
Asmahan returned to Egypt after her separation from her first husband in 1939, to return to the life of art. The fame she achieved as a singer helped her enter the world of cinema and acting. In 1941, she presented her first film, “The Victory of Youth”, in which she acted and sang with the participation of her brother Farid al-Atrash. During it, they presented the operetta “A Night in Andalusia”, the first lyrical operetta known to Egyptian cinema.
Her body appears in a movie
In 1944, Asmahan presented her second and last movie, “Love and Revenge”, with the giants of art, Youssef Wehbe, Anwar Wagdy, Mahmoud El-Meligy, and Bechara Wakim. In it, she presented some of her best songs, including “When Will You Know” and “Nights of enchantment in Vienna”. Asmahan died in a mysterious accident before the filming of the movie ended. Forcing Youssef Wehbe to bring in an alternative actress to complete filming the remaining scenes. He also insisted on showing Asmahan’s real body in the last scene of the movie, before burying her.
She predicted where she will die
Asmahan passed away on July 14, 1944, at the age of 32. The mystery of her death bore many doubts and question marks. It is said that she predicted the place of her death when she passed by it four years before the accident, and she was terrified when she heard the sound of the engines of the steam irrigation machine next to the canal, so she said to her friend, journalist Muhammad Al-Tabi’i, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Akher Sa’a”, who was accompanying her at the time: “Whenever I hear such chimes, I imagine that they are funeral tambourines, and I feel that death is near to me.”
As for the details of her death, it goes back to the time when she was filming the movie “Love and Revenge” in the summer of 1944, when she asked the film’s producer and hero, actor Youssef Wehbe, to travel to Ras El Bar to spend a period of rest. Asmahan traveled on the morning of Friday, July 14, accompanied by her friend and business manager Mary Colada, and on the road, specifically near the city of Talkha in Dakahlia Governorate, the car veered and the driver lost control of it, and it fell into the Sahel Canal. the incident.
Peculiar death mystery
There were many rumors about the death of Asmahan, and accusations were pointed at many parties and people, as some interpreted her death as a political assassination orchestrated by one of the two sides of World War II, given the political role she played in one of her life periods with the Germans and the English. While some accused her third husband, Ahmed Salem, especially since he had previously shot her before their divorce. There are those who accused her brother, Fouad al-Atrash, and her first husband, Hassan al-Atrash, as they were at odds with her because of her intransigence and rebellion. Rumors also spread to Umm Kulthum, and that she orchestrated the incident because of her desire to remove Asmahan from her path after she became a strong competitor to her. So far, the mystery of Asmahan’s death has not been revealed, despite the passage of nearly 80 years since the accident.