Category Archives: Egyptomania

Egypt in vintage popular culture.

Glamour girls and sphinxes, part 2

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Some time ago I posted a picture of Sophia Loren on a sphinx for no better reason that it was a beautiful photograph – well, in a similarly spurious vein, here is Russian ballet star Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) in front of a sphinx at the Serapeum, Alexandria in 1923. A regular trooper when it came to touring, she was in town for a run of seven nights of performances at the Grand Theatre Mohamed Aly (she’d also been in Egypt in 1910 and would return in 1928). Below, she poses in Cairo with a more famous Sphinx, while bottom that’s her beside a hideous fountain in the garden at Shepheard’s, which is presumably where she stayed.

NPG x135875; Anna Pavlova in Egypt by Anglo-Swiss Photo-Studio, Cairo

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Sophia and the sphinx

I don’t know what the background to this image is, I just chanced on it today while doing some internet research. The only information on the site where I found the photo was that it was taken possibly in 1954. That’s the same year Two Nights with Cleopatra was released with Loren as Cleo, and the year after her first big break, playing the title role in Aida. Hence, probably, the sphinx. What I can add is the location – that’s one of the pair of sphinxes that flank the obelisk on London’s Thames Embankment. I should know, I pass it a couple of times a week heading to or from Waterloo station. So what, you might ask, is the relevance to the grand hotels of Egypt. None at all. It’s just Sophia Loren and a sphinx. Isn’t that reason enough?

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