Stars pay tribute to the Funny Girl actor

By Mia McNiece
July 10, 2015 03:30 PM
Andrew Medichini/File/AP

Many in Hollywood are remembering Omar Sharif, the iconic Lawrence of Arabia actor who died Friday from a heart attack at the age of 83.

“Omar was my first leading man in the movies. He was handsome, sophisticated and charming,” Barbra Streisand tells PEOPLE. “He was a proud Egyptian and in some people’s eyes, the idea of casting him in Funny Girl was considered controversial. Yet somehow, under the direction of William Wyler, the romantic chemistry between Nicky Arnstein and Fanny Brice transcended stereotypes and prejudice. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Omar, and I’m profoundly sad to hear of his passing.”

Antonio Banderas remembered the actor, who won a Golden Globe for Doctor Zhivago, as a “great storyteller, a loyal friend and a wise spirit.”

Rosie O’Donnell tweeted “Nicky Arnstein Nicky Armstein what a beautiful beautiful name #ThankYou #OmarSharif,” referring to his Funny Girl role.

Debra Messing called the actor her first love and posted, “RIP OMAR SHARIF growing up Funny Girl was my fav movie and I identified with BS and fell in love with this gorgeous exotic man. #1stlove.”

Meanwhile, Josh Gad wrote, “I grew up on Lawrence and Zhivago. A legacy with not one but multiple timeless classics.”

Actor Sir Roger Moore echoed the sentiment: Tweeting, “The wonderful shot of Omar Sharif’s introduction in Lawrence has stayed with me for years. Genius film and terrific actor. He will be missed.”