This is the first part of a retrospective in Arabic of the career of Egyptian comedienne Zeinat Sedki (1913-1978).
Born Zeinab Mosaad in Alexandra, Egypt in 1913, she attended school for only a short time as her father considered a rudimentary education to be sufficient for his daughter. At 15 she was married but the marriage didn’t last long. Following her divorce she earned a living by dancing at weddings but her family didn’t approve so she fled to Syria. On her return she met Najuib al Rihani and joined his troupe. He also changed her name from Zeinab with a ‘b’ to Zeinat with a ‘t’ to avoid confusion with a well known actress. Her surname remained the same as she’d been using Sedki since the time she left her family. Zeinat Sedki became a regular face on Arabic movie screens appearing with, amongst many others, Farid al Atrache, bellydancers Samia Gamal and Taheya Karioka and regularly with Ismail Yassin. Unfortunately in her later years she had little work and as a result, disappeared from the screen. She died in 1978.
Here are three dancers you may not have met before. These dancers are Imtithal Zeki, Hadia and Leila Yosri performing in scenes from the 1960 Egyptian film ‘Halak el Sayedat’ (Ladies’ Hairdresser حلاق السيدات ). The comedy starred Abdulsalem al Nabulsi and Ismail Yassin as two friends who open a special beauty salon catering not only to women and men, but also catering to pets. The film co-starred Stefan Rosti, Leila Karem and the irrepressible Zeinat Sedki.
Trivia: (1) The film also features Nadia al Jundi in an early movie appearance.
(2) Imtithal Zeki shouldn’t be confused with Imtithal Fawzy the bellydancer who was murdered onstage in 1936.
This is a rare clip of Egyptian actress/comedienne Zeinat Sedki dancing. The scene is from the 1956 Egyptian comedy ‘Sahibat al Azama’ (The Great Lady) (صاحبة العصمة ) but more about the movie later, first the dancer.
Zeinat Sedki was born Zeinab Mohamed Mosaad in Alexandria in 1913. She was married at 15 then shortly afterwards divorced. To support herself she started working as a bellydancer at local weddings and moulids. Her family’s disapproval forced her to move to Syria for a time. On returning to Egypt she started working for Badi’a Masabni and her name was changed from Zeinab to Zeinat to avoid confusion with an actress with a similar name. Her film career took off and for many years she was regularly amongst the group of actors working with comedian Ismail Yassin in many of his movies. She died in 1978.
Back to this movie: ‘Sahibat Al Azama’ starred Ismail Yassin as Ghazel and Tahia Karioka as Munira, his rich second wife. The story of the film is that Ghazel and Munira decide to adopt a child and Ghazel ensures that the child is his son from his previous marriage to Zeinat Sedki’s character. Sedki then works as a nanny in her ex-husband’s house so she can still raise her son. When the upper class wife finds out, she poisons the son and frames his mother. Happy ending though as Munira is found guilt of the crime and we’re left with the feeling that the parents reunite. The excellent supporting cast includes Zeinat Sedki herself along with Hassan Fayek, Abdel Ghani El Nagdi and Abdel Hamid Zaky.
Zeinat Sedki’s philosophy of life was “Those who consider it (life) a comedy live longer as they enjoy each and every minute in their lives.”
A wedding procession featuring a shamadan dancer from the 1985 film ‘Sa7eb al edara bawab al 3emara’ (His Highness the Building Supervisor). The bride and groom in this scene are the film’s stars, Nadia al Jundi and Adel Adham.
This is actress/dancer Ellen Diato dancing in a scene from the 1956 Egyptian film ‘Sahibat al Azama’ (The Great Lady صاحبة العصمة ). The man rolling off the stage at the end of the scene is comedian Ismail Yassin.
Ellen Diato was born in Cairo of Greek descent and appeared in a number of Egyptian movies in the 1950s either as a dancer or in small acting roles. Her films included ‘Delilah’ which starred Abdel Halim Hafez (she dances while Mary Ezzeldine sings), several films with Ismail Yassin and also with Nelly Mazloum.
Alexandria born actress Nadia al Jundi dances in a scene from the 1985 film ‘Sa7eb al Edara Bawab al 3emara’ (His Highness, the Building Supervisor’ صاحب الإدارة بواب العمارة).
In this film, veteran Egyptian actor Adel Adham plays a hired killer who’s in hiding and working as a building caretaker (the bawab of the the title). He marries Zaida the bellydancer (el Jundi) and they proceed to make money from renting out apartments for gambling and prostitution. They climb the social ladder while hiding behind the guise of a charity. The film also starred Safiya Omari and Nagah el Mogy.