Carry On Cleopatra

What’s all the fuss about Gal Gadot?

Dozens of beautiful women have played the role of Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt on film, television and virtually every other media. As a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, she was a descendant of its founder Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general and companion of Alexander the Great.

Yes, Cleo was a Greek; not an Arab and not even an Egyptian. Hardly surprising given that she died in 30 BCE, almost 700 years before the Arabs conquered the Roman colony and imposed their language and religion.

Jewish Cleopatras

Please feel free to share this image. Click for hi-res.

Could any one imagine anyone getting their knickers into a knot if, as is likely, non-Italians were cast as Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar?

There may be other Jewish Cleos but these are the one I googled. Let me know if you can add to the list.

  • Cleopatra (1917) Theda Bara
  • Producers’ Showcase Caesar and Cleopatra (1956) Claire Bloom
  • General Electric Theater Caesar and Cleopatra (1959) Piper Laurie
  • Cleopatra (1963) Elizabeth Taylor
  • Royal Shakespeare Company Antony and Cleopatra (1974) Janet Suzman

BTW Just for the record. At least two Arab actors have appeared as Cleo although they are a small minority.

  • Amina Rizk, an Egyptian actress, took the role Cleopatra in 1943.
  • Sulaf Fawakherji, a Syrian actress played the role in the Cleopatra (2010) TV series. She appeared on Syrian television in May 2011 in defense of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government. Hmm.

Honourable Mention

Ms. Whoopi Goldberg dressed up as Cleopatra for a Kimberly-Clark: 2010 TV campaign for Poise adult underwear (AKA diapers or nappies).

Yes, I know she isn’t technically Jewish, whatever she might claim. “I just know I am Jewish. I practise nothing. I don’t go to temple, but I do remember the holidays.”

Still doesn’t she fill the woke bill? She’s Black, not conventionally beautiful and sort-of kinda Jewish, isn’t she?

Please link to this post, in response to haters who try to say an Israeli Jew can’t play a Greek-Egyptian Queen.

Extra credit

In other languages

Translation by Google Translate. If inaccurate please let me know.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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