Photo of Shira



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

Historic Photos from the Golden Era


Collected By Priscilla Adum




Click any of the photos below to see more detail.


Bamba Kashar

Bamba Kashar was an Egyptian dancer who lived around the same time as Shafiqa el-Koptiyya. In this photo, Bamba is the one who is seated, and wearing a long necklace.

Bamba Kashar was the very first Egyptian dancer to appear in a film. It was a silent movie called Leyla made in 1926, released in 1927, and it was in fact the first feature-length Egyptian movie ever made. Bamba played the role of a dancer named Salma.

The role of the nurse in the film Leyla was played by Mary Mansour. Mary was the owner of a popular sala on Emad El Din street and was one of Badia Masabni's fiercest rivals in the early days when Badia opened the first of her three night clubs.


Bamba Kashar was one of the dancers known for performing with a shamadan (candelabrum) balanced on her head. Today, a number of the albums of music for Oriental dance include a song titled "Bamba Kashar" for use with shamadan. Some say this song was originally composed for her.

In 1974, a biopic titled Bamba Kashar was made about her life, directed by Hassan al-Imam.

Bamba Kashar

Badia Masabni

This rare photograph of Badia Masabni was taken in 1912. It shows her wearing traditional Syrian/Lebanese garb sitting with a balas (jug) on her lap.

Traditionally, people used a balas to carry water, store honey, or save cheese.


In this photo, Badia Masabni is dancing at a wedding. She is the one on the left playing sagat (finger cymbals) and wearing an evening gown. In a 1966 interview she said she always wore evening gowns for her performances rather than revealing outfits.

The other dancer is Fathya Sherif who used to work at Badia's nightclub as a dancer and a monologist (stand-up comic). Fathya was married to actor Imad Hamdy.

This photo appears on many Arabic-language web sites. El Destour is one example.

Badia Masabni

Oum Kalthoum

This photo of Oum Kalthoum is from 1925.

Oum Kalthoum's birth name was Fatma Ibrahim El Beltagi. Her father used to call her Oum Kalthoum as a nickname, in reference to the Prophet Mohamed's daughter Oum Kalthoum, through his wife Khadijah.

In old Arabic the name Oum Kalthoum means "one with full cheeks", and in this context does not mean the mother of anybody. There are many Arab women with Oum Kalthoum as their first name — it's not an uncommon name, and it would not be shortened to just "Oum". Her last name is not "Kalthoum", it's "El Beltagi".

Oum Kalthoum

Why did Oum Kulthoum always wear dark glasses? These diamond studded glasses that belonged to the legendary singer can be seen on display at the Oum Kulthoum museum in Cairo.

Oum Kulthoum always wore dark glasses because she had a thyroid condition that caused her to develop exophthalmus, which is a bulging of the eyes. It's not uncommon for thyroid patients to suffer from exophthalmus. This in turn may also cause dryness of the cornea and sensitivity to light.

When Oum Kulthoum developed the condition in the 1940's, surgery on the thyroid was very risky because it could have damaged her vocal cords, with the possibility that she could completely lose her voice. She underwent treatment for her thyroid condition both in Egypt and in the United States over the span of several years.

According to an Egyptian friend of Priscilla's, the effect on Oum Kulthoum's eyes caused by the thyroid disease was also the primary reason that she ended her career in cinema. Her final film was in 1948. When she sang concerts in theaters, the television camera operators were instructed to not focus on her face or zoom in for close-ups of her.


Beba Ezz El Din

This 1937 photo shows Beba Ezz El Din reclining on an assuit shawl. Beba Ezz El Din was the dancer who purchased two of Badia Masabni's nightclubs.

She purchased Casino Badia on Emad el Din street in 1936 behind Badia's back. Years later, in 1950, she purchased the Casino Opera when Badia sold it to retire to Lebanon.

Beba Ezzeldin died less than a year later in 1951 in a tragic car accident.


Samia Gamal

This photo shows the wedding of Samia Gamal and Texas oil heir Sheppard King III on November 29, 1951. He converted to Islam for her, and took on the name Abdullah Bey.

In this photo, Samia is wearing a simple white gown and small hat. Sheppard King is facing her. This is the katb el ketab (wedding ceremony). Their hands are united under the white mandil (handkerchief) according to Islamic tradition.


Badia Masabni, Taheya Carioca, & Samia Gamal

This photo shows Badia Masabni, Samia Gamal and Taheya Carioca in their later years. This historic snapshot was taken long after Badia had sold her Opera Casino and had retired to Lebanon. Witness the joy of three old friends reunited.




About the Collector

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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