NAIMA AKEF 1929 - 1966
Naïma Akef was a circus baby, born on October 7, 1929. Her grandfather, once a trainer for the police force, founded the Akef Circus after he retired. Naïma was the daughter of acrobats and worked in the family business from the age of four, becaming the best trapezist of the family.
At age fourteen in 1943 her parents split up and the family circus closed. Her grandfather, through his connections, obtained an audition for her with Badia Masabni as a backup dancer at Cafe Badia. Hired on the spot, Naima quickly became a favorite of Masabni’s and the patrons, much to the annoyance of her co-workers. She was the only dancer who could sing as well as act. In the ultimate cat fight the other dancers ganged up on her one night to teach her a lesson. The incident backfired, however, when the circus-trained star gave them all a good thrashing. It wasn’t good enough to keep her job, though. Fearful of repercussions, Badia fired Naima to keep the peace.
Naima then went to work at the Kit Kat Club, another famous war-time cabaret. There she met the film director Abbas Kamel, who introduced her to his brother, Hussein Fawzi, another famous film director. Fawzi needed a lead actress for his next film “Al-Eïch wal malh (Bread and Salt)” 1944, and found her in Naima. The film was a huge success and made Naïma an overnight star at the age of 15. For the next 10 years she starred in all of Fawzi’s films and eventually married him in 1952, despite their 25 year age difference.
Now Naima Fawzy, the circus baby turned movie star joined one of the first professional Egyptian folkloric groups, Leil Ya Ain Group, and helped make it a success. In 1954 at age 25, she was nominated best dancer in a folklore contest at the Youth Festival in Moscow. Naima's name can still be seen on the wall of the Bolshoi commemorating the event. Sadly, Naima and her husband divorced in 1958 and both stars faded into obscurity. Naima quit acting in 1964 to take care of her only child, a son from her second marriage to accountant Salah Abdel Aleem. She died two years later from cancer, on April 23, 1966, at the age of 37.