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CAIRO: One of Egypt’s best-known comedians, Samir Ghanem, 84, died on Thursday in hospital from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Ghanem wore many hats — he was an actor, entertainer and most importantly a comedian.

His career spanned six decades, and his many roles made him a household name.

He will be remembered above all for his role as the beloved Fatota, a short man in a bright green oversized suit and large yellow shoes who hosted Ramadan riddles (Fawazeer) for the first time in 1982.

Ghanem first gained popularity in the 1960s as a member of the standup comedy trio Tholathy Adwa’a El-Masrah (Stage Lights Trio) with comedians George Sidhom and El Deif Ahmed.

One of Ghanem’s most notable roles was playing Masoud in the Hassan Abd Al-Salam-directed 1978 drama “Al-Motazawegoon” (The Married Couples) alongside fellow Stage Lights Trio member Sidhom.

He also played the lead role in “Goha Yahkom Al-Madina” (Goha Rules the City), in 1985, and in “Bahlool Fi Istanbul” (Bahlool in Istanbul), in 1995, alongside actress Elham Shahin.

“Samir Ghanem was an unparalleled distinguished comedian, who I worked with on the series ‘Hekayet Mizo,’ which was the reason behind my success,” said Sami Fahmy, Ghanem’s co-star in the 1977 TV show “Hekayet Mizo” (The Story of Mizo).

“Samir was a person with a high degree of humility and my days working with him were among the happiest days of my life,” Fahmy told local news outlets.

“Today I lost a friend and a wonderful comedian who will never be replaced. The world will never forget Samir Ghanem.”

Many celebrities took to their social media accounts to mourn the death of Ghanem.

Actor Adel Emam shared two pictures with Ghanem on his Instagram account, one of them from the age of black and white TV and another recent picture of them with the caption: “Goodbye Samir … Goodbye my love … I will miss you so much.”

Egyptian Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem said the Arab world had lost an icon who created works full of joy and comedy. She said that his distinctive style attracted the public for decades.

Ghanem was born on January 15, 1937, and graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, Alexandria University. After meeting Sidhom and Ahmed they formed the famous trio, a comedy singing group that participated in several successful films and plays.

His performances earned him a number of awards, including the Faten Hamama Honorary and Excellence Award in 2017 for his contribution to Egyptian cinema at the Cairo International Film Festival.

Ghanem’s wife, actress Dalal Abdel Aziz, is also hospitalized after being infected with COVID-19.

His two daughters Donia and Amy will carry on his legacy of making Egyptians laugh through their performances.

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