Born to an Italian grandmother from her mother’s side, and a French father, Lilliane Victor Cohen’s definitive origins and identity remain something of a mystery. Not least since she repeatedly claimed she was a Christian in spite of the obviously Jewish family surname.
She attended an English school in Alexandria when she caught the attention of director Ahmed Salem who introduced her to the world of show business in 1946 at the tender age of seventeen but precocious well beyond her age and ahead of her days.
A party going, fun loving and typical Alexandrian socialite, she was the subject of much speculation and rumour. Her name was linked to that of the country’s King Farouk and an alleged relationship was more than just tabloid material.
Camelia met a tragic end in a plane crash that claimed her life in 1950 at the age of twenty-one, which further enhanced her fame adding to the mystique of the Marilyn Monroe type figure, politics included. Conspiracy theories and speculation about espionage continue to fuel the imagination and tales are spun around the diva but nothing was ever resolved.
In spite of a very short-lived career, audiences keep a warm memory of an exceptionally pretty and attractive actress with great Hollywood star quality, and no less tragic stature who has made a mark in movies that are still a pleasure to watch. Atef Salem, the first to have discovered her, dedicated his film Barefoot on the Bridge of Gold (Hâfiyah ‘alâ Guisr min el dhahab) with its biographical allusions to her memory.
1947: The Red Mask (el Qinâ el ahmar)
1947: All Song (el Kol yeghanî)
1948: Fetna (Fitnah)
1948: A woman’s Imagination (Khayal Imra’ah)
1949: Dazed Souls (Arwâh hâînah)
1949: Such are Women (el Sitât Kida)
1949: El Bahlawan Street (Châri el Bahlawan)
1949: The Penny Owner (Sâhibat el malalim)
1949: Midnight (Nos el layl)
1949: My Child (Waladî)
1949: The Murderer (el Qatilah)
1950: A Woman of fire (Imraah min Nar)
1950: Dad is Groom (Bâbâ ‘aris)
1950: Full Moon (Qamar arba ‘tachar)
1950: The Millionaire (el Millionair)
1950: Mind is a Blessing (el ‘ Aql zînhah)
1950: Last Lie (âkhir kedbah)
1950: The Way to Cairo (El Tariq ela el Qâhirah)