Was Burt Reynolds a Melungeon? . . . a surprising resemblance to actor, Omar Sharif
Part Four of the series on Burt Reynolds and the movie, Deliverance
Google facial recognition algorithms clustered photos of Omar Sharif and Burt Reynolds.
In Part Three, readers learned that throughout much of his life, Burt Reynolds had claimed that he was either 1/4th Seminole or 1/4th Cherokee. These were both bogus claims that were exposed late in his life. His last name was English, but neither of his official parents looked Anglo-American or had his black hair color and tan skin tone. In fact, he had very little resemblance to his official parents. They had Sephardic Dutch and Germanic Dutch facial features. The public will probably never learn the complete, accurate explanation of Burt’s family origins.
Also, in Part Three, I mentioned that long ago, a Swedish city planner with a degree in anthropology told me that I looked like a Northern Sami and that Burt Reynolds looked like an Arab. Shezam! It turns out that like many Eastern Creek and Uchee families, my family does carry some Sami DNA markers and she was right . . . neither Native American nor Sami men are covered in dense body hair, like Reynolds was. That’s a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern trait.
Sharif (1932-2015) achieved permanent fame for his outstanding performances in Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago. He and Burt could have passed for twins. Looking up Sharif’s bio, I was surprised to learn that he was not ethnically Egyptian, but actually of multi-ethnic Syrian ancestry. This is important information.
Omar Sharif, whose adopted surname means “noble” or “nobleman”, was born as Michel Dimitri Chalhoub in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Melkite Catholic family of Syro-Lebanese descent. He belonged to a small ethno-cultural minority known as the Levantine Antiochian Greek Catholics of Egypt, an offshoot of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. In 1955, he was forced to convert to Islam in order to marry his actress-wife. After their divorce in 1974, he blatantly violated many tenants of Islam such as kissing Jewish and Christian women in public, etc. In 2005, as he was being filmed his lead role in an Italian movie about the Disciple St. Peter, he publicly announced his “conversion” back to Christianity . . . but his funeral was held in one of Cairo’s principal mosques . . . so who knows?
Sharif’s ethnic background is very significant, because it represents a mixture of all the ethnic groups, who have lived in the eastern Mediterranean Basin . . . including Palestinian Jewish and probably some Crusader knights. Lebanon once had a Christian majority. This is just the type of multi-cultural background that we would expect to see in the Mediterranean miners and colonists, who settled in the Southern Appalachians during the late 1500s and 1600s. Take a look at comparisons of the two famous actors at different stages in their lives. In particular, look at their facial proportions, protruding chins, noses, lips and hair lines. Burt Reynolds’ eyes do look Native American, but he did not have eye-folds as is common among Muskogeans and Southeast Asians.
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