Zia Mohyuddin, a British-Pakistani actor known for the films “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Immaculate Conception” and the theatrical version of “A Passage to India”, died on Monday in Karachi. He was 91 years old.
Mohiuddin was sick and on life support at a hospital in Karachi, his family said.
Muhyiddin was born in Laylalpur (now Faisalabad), British India, in 1931. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in the early 1950s. After his theatrical roles in Long Day’s Journey into Night and Julius Caesar, Mohiuddin made his West End debut in A Passage to India in 1960, playing Dr Aziz.
The actor appeared in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), playing the Arab guide Tafas. Roles in Alexander Mackendrick’s “Sammy Going South” (1963), Fred Zinnemann’s “Behold a Pale Horse” (1964), Basil Dearden’s “Khartoum” (1966), and Ralph Thomas’ “Deadlier than the Male” (1966) This was followed by The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967), Freddie Francis’ They Came From Beyond Space (1967) and Peter Hall’s Four Letter Word Work (1968).
Mohieddin returned to Pakistan in the late 1960s and hosted the popular TV talk show “The Zia Mohyeddin Show” (1969-1973) on PTV. He returned to the UK in the late 1970s after differences of opinion with the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq and produced the multicultural program Here and Now (1986 – 1989) for Central Television (now ITV).
The actor’s later roles included the popular TV series “The Jewel in the Crown” (1984), “The Partition” by Ken McMullen (1987), and “The Immaculate Conception” by Jamil Dehlavi (1992).
In 2005, then-President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf asked Mohiuddin to form the National Academy of Dramatic Arts in Karachi, and the actor remained an honorary president until his death.
Muhyiddin was also known as one of the world’s foremost reciters of poetry and prose in the Urdu language.
In 2012, Mohiuddin was awarded the Order of Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s second highest civilian honor.
“It is sad that a person with so many beautiful qualities should leave society. Zia Mohiuddin’s voice will live on in our hearts and minds,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement.
Pakistani President Arif Ali said, “For me it is a personal loss. He was a giant in the arts, an actor, producer, director and, above all, an excellent reciter of prose and poetry accompanied by music that usually commands pause.”
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, “Sad to learn of the passing of Zia Muhyiddin. I knew him for decades. He was a very cultured person, very well read in Urdu literature and an institution in the world of entertainment. He will be missed. My condolences and prayers are with his family.”
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