CAIRO - 4 September 2020: During the 70s and early 80s Nahid Sharef was one of the most sought after actress and possibly one of few who mastered the role of seductive protagonist and fill the void left by the likes of Hind Rostom and Kamelia, yet what few know about Sharef is her difficult life and secret marriage to Kamal El-Shenawy.
Samiha Muhammad Zaki who later changed her name to Nahid Sharef to fit in with her acting career, lost her mother at a very young age, reported to be ten years old and was brought up by her father and older sister, though the father too passed away leaving Sharef an orphan during her teenage years. It has been claimed that as a teenager Sharef tried to commit suicide but this has never been confirmed.
It was her friendship with the leading actress of the time; Zobeida Tharwat, that led Sharef to the acting industry where she met her first husband, the film director and producer Hussein Helmy El Mohands who was more than 25 years older than her, she was merely 18 years old so it was no surprise that the marriage did not last very long.
The first and last love for Sharef was none other than the heartthrob of the 60s and 70s the actor Kamal El-Shenawy, an admission that was documented by Sharef in a letter she wrote to El-Shenawy, where she addresses him as “my first and final love..my darling Kamal..”.
The series of letters that were published four years ago by Al-Ahram El Araby, demonstrated the deep love that Sharef held for El-Shenawywho was also older than her.
She met him for the first time on the set of the film ‘Zawja Le Youm Wahed’ – A Wife For One Day – and she was instantly attracted to him especially after witnessing a tender, caring side to El-Shenawy, he was faithful to his work, loving and respectful to the people around him and full of energy, naturally when he proposed to her she accepted immediately.
Though like most good things in life they can never be complete as El-Shenawy was already married and had children and did not want his marriage to Sharef to be made public for fear of upsetting his family, Sharef agreed and their marriage lasted four years, a period that Sharef described once as the best days of her life.
After their divorce, Sharef longed for El-Shenawy and in letters she wrote to him, she expressed how much she missed him, the loneliness she endured without his presence, the tears that would not stop and reassured him that his love will remain in her heart even if he was not in her life anymore.
In another letter that Sharef wrote to El-Shenawy, she congratulates him on his film ‘El-Mothnbon’- The Guilty Ones – then she reprimanded him for ignoring her whenever he saw her and asked why, she also admitted the rage of jealousy she felt in seeing the actress Suhair Ramzy alongside him in the film and how she wished it was her acting with him, just so that she can be close to him. Sharef goes on to apologise for interfering in his private matters and asks him to grant her the wish of hearing his voice on the phone, to know he is well even though she knew he was upset with her as she was the one that wanted to end their marriage, out of love not disdain, she believed it was the best decision for them both. She ended her letter with the repeated plea of hearing his voice and begging him not to deprive her of seeing him.
Sharef was diagnosed with cancer and it was El-Shenawy who stood by her, and through his connection he managed to speed up her visa to Sweden, where she went for medical treatment and was improving but upon her return to Egypt, Sharefneglected her health and needed to travel to London but things had reached a stage of no return.
In an interview, El-Shenawy spoke of how he took Sharef to the airport when she was heading to London and how he wished she would overcome this ordeal. Sharef died on the 7thof April 1981, at the young age of 39 years old, El-Shenawyadmitted that on the day she died he cried like a child who had just lost his mother.