Photo of Shira



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

Historic Photos of Samia Gamal


Collected by Priscilla Adum




Samia Gamal's Professional Life

Samia Gamal wears a folkloric costume. Samia Gamal
This is a legendary performing duo. Farid el Atrash sings live onstage as Samia dances. Samia Gamal and Farid al-Atrache
Samia Gamal poses near the Sphinx. Note her gold shoes! Samia Gamal at the Sphinx

This photo shows a close up of Samia Gamal wearing a stunning costume.

She wore this costume in the 1944 film Man Al Jani (Who's The Criminal?) In this movie, she danced barefoot, something that was unusual at the time. This clip shows Samia performing her dance scene in the movie. The stars of that movie were Anwar Wagdy, Amina Rizk, and Ismael Yassin. This is one of Samia's earliest films when she was only about 19 or 20 years old. She doesn't have an acting part in it, and only appears in one dancing scene which is the engagement party for a couple who is going to be married. The guests are laughing because they are thoroughly enjoying the dancer's performance. An elderly couple is particularly tickled about it because they are from a village and rarely have the chance to see a belly dancer like Samia's character.

After doing a barefoot performance, Samia was eventually given the nickname "the barefoot dancer" and rumors began to circulate that she couldn't afford shoes. Samia confronted these rumors in a later interview in Kawakeb magazine, saying that at the time of the rumors she could easily afford to buy every single shoe in the Bata Shoe store window.

At that time period most dancers wore shoes. If you look at all the pictures of Badia Masabni's dancers at her clubs, you'll see them wearing shoes pretty much all the time.

Samia Gamal



Casual Moments Offstage

Samia jokes around with Farid al-Atrache. Samia Gamal and Farid al-Atrache

The caption in Arabic says:

"Samia Gamal arrived several days ago in Paris to work on the film Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves featuring the famous French movie star Fernandel in the leading role. In this photo, Samia Gamal demonstrates her joy at having arrived in Paris by doing a baladi dance in the middle of the Champs Elysees in front of a traffic cop who stares at her with admiration and astonishment. Behind them is the Arc de Triomphe."

The movie was released in 1954. Because Samia did not speak French, her only lines in the movie were to say, "Ali Baba! Ali Baba!"

Samia Gamal in Paris
Taheya Carioca helps Samia Gamal fix her hair. Samia Gamal and Taheya Carioca



Photos by the Boyadjian Brothers

These two photos of Samia Gamal with Angelo Boyadjian were taken in 1950. Angelo was the brother and business parter of famed Armenian/Egyptian photographer Levon Boyadjian, also known as "Van Leo".

Many of the most well known celebrity photographs of that time period were taken by one of the two brothers at Studio Angelo in Cairo. They were renowned for their photographs of Omar Sharif, Samia Gamal, Farid al-Atrache, and other celebrities. Eventually, they split up and each one opened his own studio.

Angelo left Egypt in 1960 and lived out the rest of his days in Paris.

Van Leo, on the other hand, remained in Cairo. However, as the years passed, he was forgotten and most of the customers who came to his studio only wanted passport photos. Nobody dreamed that he had once hobnobbed with the stars of the Golden Era.

Van Leo's legacy was forgotten until he received a visit in the 1990s by a professor from the American University in Cairo. He introduced the professor to a treasure trove of photographs that were worth much more than a thousand words.

Samia Gamal and Angela Boyadjian

Samia Gamal and Angelo Boyadjian

Angelo Boyadjian took this photo of Samia Gamal. Note his signature in the lower right-hand corner. Samia Gamal
This is one of the photos Van Leo took of Samia Gamal. He hand-tinted a number of the photos he took. Note his signature on the lower right. Samia Gamal
Van Leo also took this photo of Samia. Note his signature in the lower right corner. Click here to see photos Van Leo took of other celebrities. Samia Gamal



Personal Life

A group of friends has a good time together at the famous El Fishawy Café, a landmark inside of Khan al-Khalili in Cairo, Egypt. Sitting against the mirrored wall is Samia Gamal, who is holding a small coffee cup in her hand. Next to her is Farid El Atrash.

On the other side of Samia is singer Shadia, who would become Farid's fianceé many years later. However, they would never marry due to his love of partying. Next to Shadia is actor Hassan Faik.

On the other side, to the right of Farid is actor Kamal El Shenawy wearing a suit and smoking shisha. And in the foreground is Taheya Carioca looking bored out of her mind!

Samia Gamal and Friends

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.

Samia Gamal was nicknamed "the barefoot dancer". I'm guessing she's trying to make a point here, posing for a photo as she shines her shoes. Samia Gamal
in this photo, Samia Gamal wears religious attire as she heads for the airport to begin the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Samia Gamal
This closeup shows more detail of Samia's face. 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.


Samia (on the left) poses with two of her friends. The one on the right is Najah Salam, a singer who was born in Lebanon. Najah is known for the song "Mayyil Ghazayil". Samia Gamal and Friends



Related Articles

Other Historic Photos

Other Items Featuring Samia

Samia on Stage and Screen

Non-Dance Projects

Personal Life





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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