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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Hekmet Fahmy:

Profile of a Spy


By Priscilla Adum



Hekmet Fahmy was the most famous dancer of her day. She was born in 1907 and her dream was to become a famous theater actress. She began working with Ali El Kassar's theater group in the 20's.

By 1927 Fahmy had left the group and was working at Badia Masabni's sala. She was also the star attraction at Mary Mansour's sala. She soon became the most sought-after dancer in Cairo, and her fame rivaled even Madame Badia's. She moved in high class circles, and Hekmet was invited to dance for the rich and famous of many countries. She was the most well known dancer of her time — until her espionage episode, that is.

Due to her inclusion in elite circles, Hekmet had access to many important people including military officers. Unfortunately, her dislike of the British led to her involvement in espionage, and she began spying for the Germans. She was discovered and arrested.

In 1942 the British sentenced her to five years in prison. This was the kiss of death for her career. By the time she was released from prison, she was 40 years old, and a new crop of younger talented dancers had arrived on the scene, including Samia Gamal and Taheya Carioca who were in their 20's. Hekmet could no longer compete.

Hekmet Fahmy



Career in Cinema

Hekmet made six movies:

  • Al Zawaj (The Wedding), released in 1933.
  • Tita and Wong, released in 1937.
  • Al Habu Al Muristaniu (The Love of the Mad), released in 1937.
  • El 3azema (The Will), released in 1939. Click here to see her in a non-dance scene from it.
  • Rabab, released in 1942.
  • El Moutasharide (The Dispossessed), her final movie, released in 1947. This one failed miserably at the box office. Hekmet lip-synced the singing scenes, and Shadia's voice was used for them.

Hekmet retired after the failure of El Moutasharide. She died in Egypt in 1974 at age 67.



Timeline of Her Life

November 24, 1907 Born
1927 Started working for Badia Masabni
1933 Appeared in her first movie, Al Zawaj.
1937 Appeared in her second movie, Tita and Wong.
1937 Appeared in her third movie, Al Habu Al Muristaniu.
1939 Appeared in her fourth movie, Al Azima.
1942 Appeared in her fifth movie, Rabab.
1942 Arrested by the British for spying and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
1945 Released from prison after serving 2 1/2 years
1947 Appeared in her sixth and final movie, El Moutasharide.
June 28, 1974 Died



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About the Author

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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