A few months ago, I published a blog post telling the story of Ray’s friendship with Egyptian movie star Samia Gamal. Gamal was declared the “The National Dancer of Egypt” by King Farouk in 1949, which led to a nightclub tour by her in the US the following year, setting off interest in “belly dancing” in this country. Ray was asked to appear at her nightclub in Cairo in the early 1950s and, while Ray was there, she gave him a pet camel and Ray discovered his old accompanist, Duke Kewish, working at the club.
Periscope Films, a stock footage house, just uploaded some fascinating and candid footage of Samia Gamal, taken sometime in the 1950s. The short, “Egypt’s Hollywood“, was produced for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and spends much of the first half taking a behind the scenes look at a film being shot starring Samia Gamal. (You also get a brief glimpse of a Western being shot in Arabic by an Egyptian film crew.). Gamal was the best known figure in Egyptian cinema in the US, so it makes sense the short would focus on her work.
Ray’s not seen anywhere in the short, but I’m still hoping that some photos of or newspaper clippings about Ray taken in Cairo during his visit might turn up one day.