Actor, screenplayer and director (Fayoum, Egypt, 7.14.1898 – Cairo, Egypt, 10.17.1982)
Youssef Wahbi was born on 1898 to a well established family. His father, Abd Allah Pasha Wahbi, was an outstanding irrigation engineer in Egypt. When his father saw him acting in a circus he was shocked and forced him unsuccessfully to enroll him in an agriculture school. After First World War, Youssef fled to Italy, invited by the actor Mohamed Karim, and pursued his theatrical training with Italian actor Amedeo Chiantoni, changing his name to Ramses. After his father’s death, Wahbi returned to Cairo in 1922 and used the great fortune he inherited to establish a theatrical troupe named Ramses. On May 10, 1923, the troupe premiered with a play called Al Magnon (The insane, 1923) which was highly welcomed.
He dedicated then to the production, founding studio Ramses Complex in Zamalek. It consisted of a large cinema studio, an amphitheater, an open cinema, and a theater. He produced and starred in Mohamed Karim’s Zeinab (1930) and Awlad Al Dawat (Spoiled Children, 1932). In his first period his play was devoted to melodrama and was marked by a overstatement that was part of the performative tradition, but over time he developed a more realistic tone and had success also in films where he could perform a humorous note as in Ishayat hub (Fatin Abdel Wahab, 1961) or Miramar (Kamal Al Cheikh, 1969).
He directed and starred in more than thirty movies and starred in over three hundred theatrical productions and over fifty feature films, between 1930s and 1970s, directed by prominent directors such as Egyptian-Italian Togo Mizrahi (Laila Momtera, 1940; Leila, Bint El Rif, 1941), Ahmed Badrakhan (Assifa Alal Rif, 1942), Youssef Chahine (Al Muharrij Al Kabir, 1952; Iskanderija… lih?, 1979), Kamal El Sheikh (Hayat Ou Maut, 1955; El Malak El Saghir, 1958), Salah Abu Seif (Al Kahira Thalatin, 1966), Henry Barakat (Al Hob Al Kabeer, 1969).
Wahby, who played the role of Cardinal Giovanni De Medici in historical film Kursi El Iteraf (1949), also written and directed by him, starred also in two Italian co-productions filmed in Egypt, namely melodrama La peccatrice bianca (Amina in Arabic) by Cairo-born Goffredo Alessandrini, also starring Rushdy Abaza, Samiha Tawfik and Seraj Munir, and James Bond movie parody Come rubammo la bomba atomica, in which, alongside comical duo Franco Franchi e Ciccio Ingrassia and dubbed by Gualtiero De Angelis, starred also Adel Adham.
La peccatrice bianca (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1952, ff, act), Come rubammo la bomba atomica (Lucio Fulci, 1967, ff, act).
Frame taken from:
Come rubammo la bomba atomica. Dir. Lucio Fulci. Five Film, Fono Roma, Coprofilm, Il Cairo, 1967.
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi, with Ylenia Talevi and Renata Ornella Orlando
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