Her birth name Jeanette Gergis al-Feghali; (10 November 1927 – 26 November 2014) was a Lebanese singer and actress. Considered a “Diva of Music” in the Arab world (the same title often given to Oum Kalthoum, Warda Al-Jazairia and Fairuz), she released over 50 albums and acted in 98 movies as well as over 20 Lebanese stage plays. She had a reported more than 3,500 songs in her repertoire. She was among the first Arabic singers to perform at the Olympia in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House. She was considered one of the four Lebanese icons along with Fairuz, Wadih El Safi and Nasri Shamseddine and was nicknamed “Empress of the Lebanese Song”.
Sabah was born to a Maronite Christian family in Bdadoun, a small town north of Beirut. She came from a troubled family; her father physically abused her and tried to steal her early movie earnings. Her first marriage was to escape her father’s control. Her brother also killed her mother because he believed she was having an affair.
She carried four different passports for four different countries: Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and the United States. She wed at least nine times, most notably to Egyptian actor Roshdi Abaza, as well as Lebanese author-director Wassim Tabbara, Lebanese businessman Najib Chammas, Lebanese politician Youssef (Joe) Hammoud and Egyptian musician Anwar Mansy. Her last marriage was to the much-younger Lebanese artist Fadi Lubnan. She had two children, Sabah Chammas (from her marriage with Najib Chammas) and Howayda Mansy (from her marriage to Anwar Mansy). Sabah was a known medical doctor in the United States and Howayda, a relartively well-known singer, actress and socialite
Song from the movie “A Man from Tehran”.
Sabah released her first song in 1940, aged 13, when she was given a three-film contract by Lebanese film-maker and actor Assia Dagher and taken to Cairo, where Dagher’s operation was based. Her first film, El Qalb Louh Wahid (The Heart Has Its Reasons, 1945) made her an immediate star. She chose to adopt the name of the character she played, Sabah, Arabic for “morning”. She would also be known affectionately as Shahroura (singing bird) and Sabbouha. “She was a symbol for fun, innocent naughtiness, compassion,” the Egyptian journalist Nasser Iraq told Al-Arabiya News, “and Egyptians wanted these things after the war.” Sabah has acted in more than 87 movies,most of these movies are Egyptian and Lebanese movies, as well as 37 play. Her acting career stretches from 1943 till 2005.
Song from play “عواصف” (Storms).
Egyptian critics were sceptical at first, but gradually embraced her, and after the Egyptian revolution in 1952 her fame spread throughout the region. She held Lebanese, Egyptian, Jordanian and US citizenship. She married 10 times, and had two children: a son, Sabah, with her first husband, Najib Shammas, whom she married when she was 18, and a daughter, Howaida, with her third husband, Anwar Mansi, an Egyptian violinist. Her ninth marriage, to Fadi Lubnan, lasted 17 years. One of her husbands, the parliamentarian Joe Hamoud, reportedly divorced her in the 1970s after she scandalised Beirut society by performing in tiny shorts.
In her 70s she dated a 25-year-old Mr Lebanon, Omar Mehio, and when she married her last husband, Joseph Gharib, at the age of 85, she entered the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest bride of the year. She remained untroubled by gossip, however, and had a wicked sense of humour. In her last months, amid media rumours that she had died, she was quoted as saying: “Even in my death, I’m making people busy.”