‘Marilyn Monroe of the East’ dies at 82

For at least two generations, actress Hend Rostom represented ultimate femininity in Egypt.

Her physical beauty, sharp features and natural flirtatiousness earned her the name "Marilyn Monroe of the East."

She died of a heart attack last night at a Cairo hospital. She was 82.

Born on 11 November, 1929 as Nariman Hussein Mourad, Rostom grew up in the seaside city of Alexandria with her Turkish father and Egyptian mother.

Despite her strict upbringing, the youthful blonde got a minor role in the 1947 film “Azhar wa Ashwak” (Flowers and Thorns). Two years later, she appeared as an extra riding a horse while filming Laila Mourad’s song “Itmakhtari ya Khail” (Dance, O Horse) in the movie “Ghazl al-Banat” (Cotton Candy).

Her physique made filmmakers typecast her as the seductive villainess early on in her career. Still, Rostom succeeded in gaining recognition for her acting skills; her role as the unfaithful stepmother to Faten Hamama in the 1957 film “La Anam” (I Can't Sleep) is unforgettable.

Although Rostom is most famous for her roles as a temptress, she was also very successful in comedic roles in movies like the 1957 “Ibn Hamido” (Son of Hamido) with Ismail Yasin and “Hob fi Hob” (Love) with Fouad al-Mohandis. She also appeared as herself in the 1960 comedy “Isha'it Hob” (Love Rumor) with Omar al-Sharif and Faten Hamama.

Rostom acted in about 83 films before she retired in 1979 after starring in the film “Hayaty Athab” (My Life is Torture).

In 1996, critics at the Egyptian cinema centennial selected four of Rostom’s films on the list of best 100 Egyptian films of the twentieth century.

The selected films were 1957's "Rod Kalby" (Return My Love) by director Ezz al-Din Zulfiqar, 1958's “Al-Bab al-Hadeed” (Iron Gate) by Youssef Chahine, 1958's classic “Bine al-Sama wal Ard” (Between Heaven and Earth) by Salah Abu Seif, and 1959's “Siraa fi al-Nil” (Conflict on the Nile) by Atef Salem.

After her retirement, Rostom made few public appearances, wanting her fans to remember her from her youthful days. Indeed, her memory remains strong.

Last month during the Tahrir sit-in, protesters made a stencil of Rostom on the walls of the Mugamma government building.

The stencil reads: “We’ll bring you all the way from Sharm el-Sheikh, O you unfaithful Souna,” referring to her role in the comedy “Love Rumor."

Related Articles

Back to top button