After watching an endless see of classic Arabic films, there she was! I found her. My October muse. Her name is Camelia. Born on December 13, 1919 in Alexandria, Egypt, to an Italian grandmother from her mother’s side, and a French father, Lilliane Victor Cohen’s definitive origins and identity remain something of a mystery.
While attending an English school in Alexandria, she caught the attention of director Ahmed Salem who introduced her to the world of show business in 1946, in true My fair Lady fashion, Salem dressed her up and gave her acting lessons thus giving her the divinity of a goddess while parading her to well-known producers. She opted to drop Salem and chose her debut on film with Yusef Wehby in The Red Mask. During her short career, four years to be exact, she played various parts from comedies, musicals and even dramas. She even played an English speaking part in the British crime film Cairo Road by Director David MacDonald, in which she proved to be on the right tracks to international fame.
To all her friends, she was the life of the party, the typical Alexandrian socialite; she was the subject of much speculation and rumor. Her name was linked to the first man of Egypt King Farouk and the pair had a passionate turbulent romance, suicide attempts included, on her part naturally... He even filed for divorce from Queen Farida to make her happy. Camelia met a tragic end in a plane crash while en route to Interlaken, Switzerland via Rome that instantly claimed her life on the 31 of August 1950 at the tender age of thirty-one, which only enhanced her fame adding to the mystique of her. What was chilling is that she was not supposed to board that plane at all. She tried to find a seat on board at all costs, because she was tired from working on six back-to-back films. In a twist of fate, a seat miraculously sprung up after writer Anees Mansour decided to delay his travels. He soon after wrote a column about the tragedy titled "Camelia Died So I Can Live".
Camelia gave Arabic Cinema cult classics like Qamar 14 or Full Moon where she played the maid that everyone falls for, with her quick wits and flirty personality every role was a Camelia role; people adored her, it's not her beauty that captivated them it was her realness, her determination, and her Hollywood star quality that won them over. However it was her tragic death that cemented her as a major cinematic icon. The unknown details of her final performance only add to her allure. It’s always the unlucky in life that live on, through their work, their craft, and their loyal fans. Camelia is no exception!
Camelia's beauty and personal style inspired me to make some exclusive art collages to celebrate the life of Lady C.