Curtains fall: Legendary Syrian actor 'Abu Sayyah' dies

Curtains fall: Legendary Syrian actor 'Abu Sayyah' dies
2 min read
07 January, 2017
Syria's legendary actor, Rafiq al-Subaei, died at the age of 86 on Thursday, after decades of transitioning from role to role on millions of screens across the Arab world.
Rafiq al-Subaei was widely known by his stage name Abu Sayyah [AFP]

Legendary Syrian actor Rafiq al-Subaei died in Damascus on Thursday, at the age of 86, bringing an end to a colourful career in film which spanned six decades.

Subaei - better known by his stage name 'Abu Sayyah' - began his acting career in the mid-1950s and sailed through a variety of scenes, including slapstick comedy, lusty romances, and action-filled thrillers. He then transitioned himself into more serious soap dramas.

Abu Sayyah was one of the founders of Syrian television in 1960 and shot to fame for his classic comedy series, Maqaleb Ghawwar ("The Pranks of Ghawwar") in which he played a mischievious clown named Ghawwar al-Tosheh.

Despite his involvement in a political satire mocking the Arab's performance in the 1967 war against Israel, the prolific actor was often hosted at the presidential palace in Damascus.

He was received by every president from Naem al-Qudsi in 1961 to Bashar al-Assad in 2008, when he received a medal of honour.

The renowned actor - who remained active until his last days - was hailed as a "artiste of the people" by many across the Arab world.

He shared a stage with legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz in the 1964 musical The Ring Seller, as well as Egyptian screen legends Farid Shawki and Nabila Obaid in The Three Crooks.