Egyptian comic Samir Ghanem passed away due to COVID-19. Image Credit: Supplied

Cairo: The death of veteran Egyptian comic Samir Ghanem, one of the Arab world’s most prominent comedians in the past five decades, has triggered an outpouring of mourning. Ghanem passed away Thursday at a Cairo hospital to which he was transferred more than two weeks due to a COVID-19 infection and kidney problems. He was 84.

“The artistic life in Egypt and the Arab world lost a genius and a unique comic icon, who painted pages of joy in the history of acting performance,” Egyptian Culture Inas Abdul Dayam said in a statement.

The US embassy also mourned Ghanem, describing him as legendary.

“We join the people of Egypt in mourning the loss of the legendary Samir Ghanem. His legacy will live on through the hearts he touched with his humour,” the embassy said in a tweet.

Celebrated Egyptian actress Lebleba, who collaborated with Ghanem in several films, paid homage to the late comedian. “I console myself, his family and lovers of his art because he is an artist who would not be repeated. He dominated the throne of comedy for long years due to his sense of humour. I was lucky to have worked with him in more than eight films,” she said.

“May God have mercy on you for having inspired joy and smiles in hearts of all people,” Lebanese actress Nicole Saba said on her Twitter.

Ghanem, an agriculture school graduate, launched an acting career in the early 1960s when he along with comics Al Deif Ahmed and George Seidhom set up the stand-up comic group “The Stage Trio”.

The trio also starred together in several films. After Al Deif’s death in 1970, Ghanem and Seidhom continued collaboration in stage comedies including the hits “The Married People” in 1978 and “Welcome Doctor” in 1981.

Long career

In the 1980s, Ghanem achieved more popularity by starring in riddle TV shows locally dubbed “fawazeer”, aired during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He also participated in dozens of films. During his long career, he performed in more than 250 works including films, stage plays, and TV serials. His last screen appearance was in a commercial for a mobile phone company that was shown this past Ramadan.

A funeral prayer will be performed for Ghanem following the Friday noon prayer in the Field Marshal Tantawi Mosque on Cairo outskirts before his burial at the family cemetery in Cairo’s Nasr City quarter, according to his son-in-law actor Hassan Al Raddad.

The family does not plan a mourning ceremony due to coronavirus-related restrictions.