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

The Comic and the Villain:
Ismail Yassin and Mahmoud el Meligy



By Priscilla Adum





Ismail Yassin

Ismail Yassin was a popular comedian who started his career in the nightclubs of Cairo in the mid-1930's and later achieved fame in Egyptian motion pictures.

Ismail Yassin

In these photos, Yassin is shown doing an imitation of Samia Gamal. He claimed that belly dance didn't require talent or skill. I'm guessing he was just joking, as usual. Ismail Yassin



Mahmoud el Meligy

This is a very rare photo of Egyptian film villain Mahmoud el Meligi appearing in a theater play.

In the late 1920's, before becoming the most famous bad guy in Egyptian movies, Mahmoud el Meligi was a member of Yousef Wahbi's Theater Ensemble where he worked as an extra for 10 piasters a month. He sometimes was required to play the part of women, and in this photo he was playing the part of a belly dancer.

Later, in 1930, el-Meligy joined Fatma Rushdi's theater group where he was cast in bigger roles and earned a salary of 4 and a half pounds per month.

El Meligy's first foray into cinema was in the 1932 film The Marriage produced and directed by Fatma Rushdi. His film career took off from there. Mahmoud el Meligi became known as the Anthony Quinn of the East.

I find the costume that Mahmoud el Melegi is wearing to be very interesting. This photo is pre-1930, while he was still working as an extra with Yousef Wahbi's Theater Ensemble, according to Rotana (and other sites with info about the photos). It gives a glimpse into what Egyptian dancers were wearing in the late 1920's. His little matching Turkish vest appears to be a holdover from earlier costume styles.

Mahmoud el-Meligy



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About the Translator

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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