In celebration of the life of award-winning actor Omar Sharif, we unearthed a pictorial from our December 1968 issue. Below, Omar preps for his role in Funny Girl by bringing some of his more famous characters to set–with Playboy flair.
Omar Acts Up
Verstile screen idol Sharif, cast as “Funny Girl’s” Nick Arnstein, has a go at the role in a half dozen of his favorite film guises.
“Funny Girl” provided supersuave Omar Sharif with his first shot at a major film musical. It also provided him with a major headache. How was he going to play the part of the luckless gambler Nicky Arnstein opposite Barbra Streisand’s Fanny Brice? Omar’s antic approach, in this exclusive Playboy pictorial, was to put out a cast call for his most rewarding screen selves, to see if any of them had the Nick knack.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Sharif shows up as Sheik Ali on the set of the beer parlor owned by Fanny Brice’s parents. The Bedouin wins three chorines to his side, but not for long: He has been nomading it in the desert, where there’s water for drinking only. Camels don’t smell like roses. Neither does Ali.
Genghis, like Arnstein, was a gambler. But, Omar discovers, unlike Arnstein, the Big G. is the world’s lousiest loser. In fact, when the ball doesn’t roll his way, the houseman’s head frequently does, as evidenced by Khan’s well-placed scimitar. Nobody likes a bad sport.
Omar’s Dr. Zhivago enters Fanny and Nick’s elegant digs. Officially known in the U.S.S.R. as the Party Pooper, Zhivago had previously displayed a penchant for sympathy-provoking frostbite and tries the same icy tack in Funny Girl: He is promptly cold-shouldered by the cast.
NIGHT OF THE GENERALS
Major Grau, a friendly Wehrmacht intelligence officer, shows Arnstein potential in a Funny Girl picnic sequence. Grau was the same height as Arnstein and, facially, they might have been mistaken for twins. At closer look, however, he seems far too Right for the role.
MORE THAN A MIRACLE
Sharif, as Prince Ramon, had Sophia Loren cook dumplings. On the set of Arnstein’s apartment, Funny Girl’s most delicious dumplings don’t whet his appetite; the prince has eyes only for a white-suited queen. Ramon won’t do for the role; Funny Girl is not a fairy tale.
Sharif, as that pistol-packing bandolero Colorado, acts the stage-door smoothy on the Ziegfeld Follies’ back-alley set. Trying to prove he’s a Nick-Arnstein-type ladies’ man, Colorado presents flowers to the showgirl of his choice. But who needs a cactus corsage?
After experimenting with six of his own favorite movie characters, Omar finally decides to play Arnstein as Arnstein–a cool, cosmopolitan Jewish roué and gambler of the 1920s. Which brings up one final question: What’s a nice Arab boy doing in a role like this?