Lebanese actress and singer Sabah, an icon from the Arab world’s golden age of cinema, died in Beirut on Wednesday at the age of 87. The singer’s family confirmed the news in a Facebook post, reported Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.
Over her six-decade-long career, Sabah performed in at least 85 films, 25 plays and sang 3,000 songs, according to the Associated Press. She first came to prominence in the 1950s after coming to the attention of film producer Assia Dagher. She went on to star in several high-profile films, including 1959’s "Ataba Square" and the acclaimed Egyptian comedy "Soft Hands" (1964).
Born Jeanette Gergis Al-Feghali in the Lebanese town of Bdadoun, the singer became known by the name of a character she played in one of her earlier films. She was also affectionately known as “the Sabbouha” by her millions of fans of across the Arab world, according to the AP.
The star became the second Arab singer after Egypt’s legendary Umm Kalthoum to perform at L’Olympia in Paris, Reuters reported. She was also the first Arab singer to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Piccadilly Theatre in London. The Arab icon was a citizen of four different countries, including Egypt, Jordan, the U.S. and her native Lebanon, according to the BBC.
Sabah was married nine times, most notably to Egyptian actor Rushdy Abaza. In recent years the singer became a target of mockery for her numerous cosmetic procedures and an apparent attachment to the limelight, according the AP.
Her death was mourned across the Arab World on Wednesday, with several prominent politicians and celebrities in Lebanon expressing their sadness at her passing. "Today, Lebanon lost a legend. Sabah is gone, but she remains in our hearts,” Lebanese pop singer Nancy Ajram tweeted.
Sad news today .the legendary singer Sabah died.with her passing away an entire beautiful past of Lebanon passes away
— Walid Joumblatt (@walidjoumblatt) November 26, 2014
With 50 albums; Jeanette Gergis Al-Feghalih (Sabah) was on the same pedestal with Um Kalthoum, Warda & Fairouz http://t.co/zeQuOizpVq
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) November 26, 2014
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) November 26, 2014
Sabah deserved the long life that she lived, and today she joins the group of Lebanese immortals. May your soul rest in peace.
— Tawa (@TawaNicolas) November 26, 2014
On this dark grey day, we lost the brightest and shiniest of them all. #Sabah was and will remain an icon and inspiration.
— Jossie Jaalouk (@Jossie_Jaalouk) November 26, 2014
I think the bigger shock for the Lebanese isn't that Sabah is dead but that she was only 87.
— Maral Ghanma (@StatusInBeirut) November 26, 2014
Sabah is dead. Now everyone can pretend they loved her and never joked about her.
— Mchakal Ashta (@souna_007) November 26, 2014