On December 27, the 111th anniversary of the birth of the artist Mahmoud El Meligy. He is one of the most prominent artists in Egypt and the Arab world. He was known for his spontaneity and exceptional talent in embodying different characters, as his roles varied between action, tragic, and comedian. However, what he excelled in the most was the embodiment of evil roles that gave them his character, leaving a distinctive imprint on the audience, who called him “the villain of Egyptian cinema.” Arab critics also called him “Anthony Quinn of the East” because of his skill in embodying his character in the movie “Al Qadisiyah.” It is the same character played by the American artist “Anthony Quinn” in the foreign version of the film. Let us highlight important stations in his life and his distinguished artistic career on his birthday.
His Birth & Early Life
Mahmoud Hassan El-Meligy was born on December 27, 1910, in the Maghribin district of Cairo. The family traces its origins to the village of Melij, Menoufia Governorate. Then he moved with his family to the Helmeya neighborhood. He joined the Khedivial High School and joined the school’s acting troupe, where he was trained by great artists such as George Abyad, Ahmed Allam, and Aziz Eid.
Mahmoud El-Meligy’s artistic start came in the early thirties when the artist Fatima Rushdi saw him in a theatrical performance entitled “The Gold” and was impressed by his talent and offered him to join her troupe. He performed with her many artistic performances, where he played small roles at first. Still, he decided to leave school because he could not reconcile studying and working in the theater. Then Fatima Rushdi nominated him to co-star in a movie entitled “Marriage in the Modern Way,” his first appearance in the cinema. However, the film’s failure made him leave the band and join the Ramses band, led by Youssef Wehbe. He later joined the Ismail Yassin Troupe, the Tahia Carioca Troupe, and the New Theater Troupe. To present many successful plays, the most important of which are: Julius Caesar, one day, birth, Ali Bey the Great, the Harafish, Your Majesty, O payment, O imprisonment, the honorable thief, the lesson is over, you idiot, customers of hell.
Mahmoud El-Meligy’s real cinematic debut came in 1936 when he participated in Mrs. Umm Kulthum in the movie “Wedad.” Then director Ibrahim Lama chose him to participate in the movie “Qais and Laila” in 1939.
His film career
Mahmoud El-Meligy is the most involved actor in artistic works in the history of Egyptian art after his works exceeded 700 artworks, ranging from cinema, theater, television, and radio. He participated in nearly 350 films, 21 of which were ranked among the top 100 films in the history of Egyptian cinema. His most famous films are: “Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, Cleopatra, Love and Revenge, the Ambassador of Hell, Ghazal al-Banat, Prince of Revenge, Raseef Namira 5, Wa Islamiah, al-Nasir Salah al-Din, Sunrise, and Sunrise”. He also presented many successful TV series, including A nose and three eyes, the black cat, the fugitives, the midnight train, the dreams of the flying boy, the days, the fasting of fasting, Amr ibn al-Aas, the mountain genie, the harvest of a lifetime.
Film production and discovery of new talents
Mahmoud El-Meligy entered the world of art through the gateway to acting. However, he also entered the field of film production. He wanted to contribute to the advancement of the public’s public taste, raising the level of artistic production, and fighting naive films. He presented several films of his production, including: “White Angel, Killer Mother, Gun Market, Hello… I am the cat, the city of silence, the terror, the father of the night, the carp.”
In addition, El-Meligy had the talent of writing, so in 1948 he wrote the script, dialogue, and story of the movie “The Adventurer,” which he also produced and co-starred with and was classified as the first police drama film in Egyptian cinema. After that, he made several films of his own, including: “The killer mother, Waad, prisoner of Abu Zaabal, Mabrouk.”
Mahmoud El-Meligy was also known for discovering and developing outstanding talents. He presented many new faces to the cinema, including Tahia Karioka, Farid Shawky, Hassan Youssef, Mohsen Sarhan.
El Meligy and Youssef Chahine
In 1970, Mahmoud El-Meligy played the character of the Egyptian farmer “Mohamed Abu Swailem” in the movie “The Land” by director Youssef Chahine, which is a turning point in his artistic life. Youssef Chahine praised El-Meligy’s spontaneity and skill in playing the role, so he was assigned other roles in many films, including: “The Choice, the Sparrow, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Alexandria Les, His Horseshoe is Egyptian.”
Good and evil are merged. Men are both good and evil.
Despite appearing in films as rival enemies, Mahmoud El Meligy and Farid Shawky had a strong friendship. Together, they formed a successful duo that lasted for decades. During which El-Meligy played the role of the villain in most of the films, while Shawky played the role of the brave Tayeb. Among their most famous films together: “Abu al-Dahab, Husseini fatwas, fatwa, gun market, wanted wife immediately, a hero to the end, Ibn al-Hatta, Satan’s gang, Hamido, the trap, half-night driver.”
Al-Meligy caused Farid Shawqi to suffer a permanent disability while filming a scene of a quarrel that he collected in the movie “The Weapon Market” in 1960, where Al-Meligy “merged” in his performance of the scene and Shawky broke his “pinky” finger, and the doctors later tried to convince him to treat him by breaking the finger once. Others to correct the first fraction, but he refused.
Threatening to kill his son
Mahmoud El-Meligy was exposed to a strange and comedic situation at the same time, when he received a threatening letter from an unknown person, asking him to meet him in front of the “Bigal” cinema and pay the sum of 5,000 pounds. Otherwise, he will kidnap and kill his son. Al-Meligy went to the Al-Jazeera police station and wrote a report. He assured the officer that he would not pay the amount, which raised his astonishment out of fear for the son. Then, Al-Miliji told him: “Let them kidnap him.” This response increased the officer’s astonishment, who asked in confusion: “How?” El-Meligy replied, laughing: “I don’t have any children.”
His sister was buried alive
Mahmoud El-Meligy recounted in his memoir one of the shocking situations he faced in his life when he discovered by chance that he had buried his sister alive. His sister had been ill for 20 years and then died, and he buried her himself. Although years later, he went to the cemeteries to bury one of his relatives, he was surprised when he opened the cemetery with his sister’s body in a place other than where he buried her. Then it was confirmed that she was in a coma, and she was alive when he buried her.
Mahmoud El-Meligy was married four times, during which he had no children. The first marriage to artist Alawia Jamil was in 1939, and their marriage lasted until his death. Due to her strong personality, she spoiled any other marriage for him, including his second marriage to Mrs. Fawzia Al-Ansari, who was working in the Umm Kulthum band. Alawia Jamil forced al-Meligy to divorce her on the third day of marriage. The matter was repeated when al-Maliji married for the third time to Mrs. Doria Ahmed, who was working in the Ismail Yassin band, and a month later, Alawia forced him to divorce her. As for the fourth and final marriage, it was in the seventies, when El-Meligy married the artist Sana Younes, and he agreed with her that it would be a secret marriage that no one knew about, out of his desire not to anger Alawiya Jamil. Sana Younes agreed to be called the spinster of the cinema, although she was married in secret in order to preserve her agreement with Mahmoud El-Meligy. Critic Tariq El-Shennawy revealed that she refused to announce the news even after Mahmoud El-Meligy’s death, in order to preserve the feelings of his first wife, and for that, she gave up her inheritance from him. She did not announce her marriage to Mahmoud El-Meligy until after the death of Alawia Jamil.
Awards and Honors
Mahmoud El-Meligy was a member of the National Acting Association, then a member of the National Acting Troupe. He was also appointed as a member of the Shura Council in 1980. He received many awards, including the Medal of Science and Arts in 1946, and the Cedar Medal from Lebanon for his total artwork in the same year. He also received the Gold Medal for Early Pioneers, the State Encouragement Award for Acting in 1972, as well as a Certificate of Appreciation on the Art Day in 1977, in recognition of his efforts and his prominent role in the field of art.
Mahmoud El-Meligy passed away on June 6, 1983 at the age of 72, following a sudden heart attack when he was preparing to shoot his last scenes in the movie “Ayoub”. Where he sat drinking a cup of coffee with Omar Sharif and a group of studio workers. He started talking about life, death, sleep and waking up, then leaned his head on Omar Sharif’s shoulder as if he had fallen into a deep sleep, and everyone thought that he was performing a scene, and when it took a long time, they tried to wake him from sleep, only to find that he had passed away.