BEIRUT: Amalia Abi Saleh, the much loved Lebanese star of the 1981 hit television series “Al Moalemah wal Ostaz” (The teacher and the professor), passed away Friday after spending a week in coma at a hospital in Beirut’s southern suburbs. She was 68.
Born in Dhour Choueir in the Metn, Abi Saleh was brought up in a modest family that later moved to the Lebanese capital. In Ashrafieh, where she attended school, she gained the nickname of “tom boy.”
After he parents’ divorce, Abi Saleh moved to Syria’s Latakia with her father in 1955. Years later, Abi Saleh, who was fluent in both Arabic and Italian, moved to Milan.
In Italy, Abi Saleh got her first experience in acting, joining an entertainment group that toured Europe with performances at U.S. military bases across the continent.
In 1964, Abi Saleh, who had visited Lebanon occasionally to see her mother, moved back to her home country where she kicked off her acting career, starring in several television shows and plays.
One of her most popular roles was in the television series "Nadi al-Howat” (Amateur Club) in which she played an Italian girl who did not speak Arabic.
Abi Saleh enjoyed working and living in Lebanon despite the financial challenges actors face in the country, in contrast to her contemporaries in Italy.
In the 1970s, Abi Saleh took part in several stage plays starring Lebanese and Arab actors. She also appeared in the big screen movie "Zaman ya Hob" (Where have you been, love) with Farid al-Atrash and "Zawjati min el hippies" (My wife is a hippie) with renowned Syrian comedian Dored Lahham.
Abi Saleh also composed and acted in several plays for children as part of a comedy duo.
After a brief break, Abi Saleh returned to the small screen in a series that would earn a place in Lebanese popular culture. The 1981 hit “Al Moalemah wal Ostaz” (The teacher and the professor) also starred Ibrahim Maraashli and Hind Abi Lamam.
Her last role was a 2004 play composed by Father Fadi Tabet called "10452."