Between his birth on 6 September 1924 and his passing on 16 September 2006, Fouaad al-Mohandess made a major mark on Egyptian theatre, cinema, radio and television. Devoted since childhood to the performing arts, al-Mohandess' first introduction to the stage took the form of...Read more school plays, followed by university theatre at the Faculty of Commerce, Cairo University. Al-Mohandess modeled himself for a while on the great comedian Nagueeb al-Reehaany, rehearsals of whose troupe he regularly attended. In 1953, al-Mohandess joined the radio program “Saa'a le-albak i.e. An hour for your heart”. Two years later, he was one of the co-founders of the “Saa'a le-albak” theatre troupe. He directed their first play, “Kaan mel-awwal i.e. It was about time”, and performed in most of the productions subsequently staged by the troupe. The next turning point in his career came when he began to perform in television-sponsored play productions. Roles in plays such as “Ana we howwa we heyya i.e. Me, he and she (1962)” and “Al-sekerteir al-fanny i.e. The technical secretary (1963)” brought him to the attention of a large and appreciative audience. Then, in 1966, he co-founded the United Artists' troupe, taking leading roles in several of the plays staged by the troupe, among them “Ana we howwa we somowwo i.e. Me, he and his Highness (1966)” and “Sayyedaty al-gameela - An adaptation of My Fair Lady (1968)” which are considered by many the highpoint of his career on stage. In 1971 El-Mohandess, with his then wife Shweikar, with whom he formed a very popular duo, joined the Egyptian Comedy troupe, participating in many of the comedies it staged, including “Hello, Dolly (1971)”, “Leih, leih i.e. Why! Oh Why? (1976) and “Ennaha hakkan ‘aaela mohtarama i.e. It's quite a respectable family (1978)”. El-Mohandess' first break on the big screen was in the 1953 film “Ghaltet ‘omr i.e. The mistake of a lifetime”, which he followed up a year later with a role in “Bent al-geiraan i.e. The neighbours' daughter (1954)”. He played supporting roles in several successful films, including “Bayn al-atlaal i.e. Amid the ruins”, “Nahr al-Hobb i.e. The river of love”, Almaz wa ‘Abdo al-Haamouly i.e. Almaz and ‘Abdo al-Haamouly” and “Shafeeka al-Kebteyya i.e. Shafeeka the Copt”. His most memorable film roles, though, were opposite Shweikar. Among the films in which they appeared together are “Shanabou fel-massyada i.e. Shanabou in the trap”, “Enta elly atalt babaaya i.e. It was you who killed my father” and Motarada gharameyya i.e. Amorous chase”. Sadly, the majority of these films, produced between 1968, the year after the defeat, and 1972, a year before the victory in the 1973 War, were mediocre largely. Al-Mohandess was under no illusions about his career as a film actor and repeated on several occasions that despite the many films he had appeared in it was his contribution to theatre of which he was most proud. Indeed, as he added, he spent the bulk of what he made in cinema on financing productions for the stage. He was also in demand as a television actor, appearing in series; “ Oyoun i.e. Eyes”, “Azwaag laaken ghorabaa i.e. Married but estranged” and “Al-Zaa’er al-magh-oul i.e. The unknown visitor” as well as “Fawazeer ‘Ammo Fouaad i.e. Uncle Fouaad's Rrddles”, for many years a popular staple of the Ramadaan schedules. While his radio work, in addition to the programme Sa'a Li-Qalbak, included memorable Ramadaan radio dramas with Shwikaar as well as the program “Kelmetein we bass i.e. Just two words”. In the course of his long career, al-Mohandess won several awards. He was honored at the first Comedy Festival organized by the Egyptian Society for Theatre Amateurs in 1994, by the Cairo International Film Festival in 1999 and was presented with a prize from the Catholic Centre for Artistic Creativity. The crowning honour of his career, though, came in 2005 when he was the first comedian to receive the State Merit Award. Many factors contributed to al-Mohandess' success as a performer and comedian. He owed his excellent diction and elocution to the fact that his father, Zaky al-Mohandess, was the dean of Dar Al-‘oloum and a distinguished scholar. Al-Mohandess, who modeled himself on al-Reehaany and Charlie Chaplin early in his career, also made his debut at a time, when the earlier generation of comedians, which included figures such as Esmaeel Yasseen, was losing its footing. Then, of course, there were al-Mohandess' own formidable talents: fitness and suppleness, a musical ear that enabled him to sing in several musicals and his versatility as an actor who could play the put upon civil servant as convincingly as the millionaire. Alongside this substantial, multi-faceted artistic legacy, al-Mohandess will be remembered for his sense of decorum and for a devotion to comedy that never descended into cheap farce, while his faith in team spirit and the support he extended to younger comedians, such as ‘Aadel Emaam, served to underline his generosity as a performer.