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Joel Gordon

Egyptian stage and screen star, director and playwright, was born in Cairo on 14 July 1898, the son of Abd Allah Wahbi Pasha, a senior engineer in the public works ministry. He later recalled attending his first play, Othello, in Sohag, the Upper Egyptian city where his father was posted when he was a boy. In 1912 the family moved back to Cairo, and Wahbi became drawn to the theater district and began acting. His father disapproved—acting was no profession for an elite son—and sent the boy to Italy to study electrical engineering. Undaunted, in Milan he attended a prestigious acting conservatory. By the time he returned to Egypt, in 1922, his father had died, leaving Wahbi with a substantial inheritance, which he utilized to pursue his artistic dreams.

In March 1923 he founded the Ramsis Theater Company The troupe would become home to many of ...