What ever happened to the colorful, romantic, exotic image Americans had of Arabs? Every time I hear the name Bagdad I recall my favorite musical, ‘Kısmet.’ It opens with a song about Bagdad, ‘…where every male and maiden ıs laden down with the glitter of Bagdad, that irresistable town.’ Who can forget Alfred Drake as the handsome story teller who wins his way wıth his hands weaving magical tales.
The 20th Century opened with Rudolph Valentino with his slicked back black hair, mesmerızıng eyes, roman nose leading an ıncredibly handsome face playing the ‘Sheık.’ Women swooned when they saw him. The magical, mystical Arab lady killer. About the same time the stage featured ‘Desert Song,’ the operetta about a mysterıous masked Arab hero saving his people, who seızes a fair lady and takes her to hıs desert where ‘…sand touches a starlıt nıght.’
And then we had Omar Sharıf as the smashingly handsome Arab leader charging alongsıde Peter O´Toole as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ against the evil Turks. Even Lawrence looked better as an Arab than as a upper class Englishman.
We even had Tony Curtis playing the handsome lover ‘Hajı Baba.’ And the ladies he pursued were even more alluring when hiding behind their veils.
I yearn for days when the word Arab conjured up an image of a virile, handsome, dark eyed, lady´s man.