You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Iraqi actor Rasim al-Jumaili dies

Comic thesp was living in exile

Iraqi comic actor Rasim al-Jumaili died in Damascus, Syria Dec. 1. He was 69.

The head of the Iraqi Actors’ Association, Hussein al-Basri, said Jumaili died of a blood infection.

The thesp was living in exile, driven out by the bitter violence raging in his homeland.

President Jalal Talabani, mercilessly lampooned by Jumaili in a recent television series, expressed the sorrow felt by many Iraqis that the actor had died abroad and agreed to meet the costs of bringing his body home for burial.

Most of Iraq’s film and television industry relocated to Damascus after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 — among them the well-loved Jumaili, who was known as the “people’s actor.”

He most recently played The Chief — based on Talabani — in political comedy “Anba al-Watan” shot in Syria, which screened on the Dubai-based Al-Sharqiya satellite channel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Jumaili, known for his comic roles on stage, television and the cinema screen, told Al-Sharqiya television recently that he had initially feared taking on what was an overtly political role.

“But when I read the script I saw it was fun — both comical and critical,” he said.

“We are not disrespecting anyone with this type of political humor. We are criticizing positive and negative issues that Iraqis are suffering from.”

Jumaili was born in Baghdad and launched an acting career that spanned radio, theater, television and stage with a sparkling debut in a school play at age 11.

Graduating from Baghdad’s fine arts academy in 1964, he spent most of his early career on stage, making his name with “July 14,” a drama centered on the date in 1958 when Colonel Abdul Karim Qassim formed a military government in Iraq.

He later shifted to comedy, especially on the big screen, cutting a memorable figure with his wide girth and booming voice.

He was a founder of the National Theater Group, which he formed with like-minded comic actor friends in 1987, and was also the author of many popular plays, mainly comedies.

More Scene

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content