Turhan Bey (30 March 1922 – 30 September 2012) was an Austrian-born actor. Turhan was active in Hollywood from 1941 to 1953. He was dubbed "The Turkish Delight" by his fans. After his return to Austria, he pursued careers as a photographer and stage director. Returning briefly to Hollywood to receive an award, he made several guest appearances in 1990s television series including SeaQuest DSV, Murder, She Wrote and Babylon 5 as well as a number of films. After retiring he appeared in a number of documentaries, including a German-language documentary on his life.
Life and career
Turhan was born Turhan Gilbert Selahattin Sahultavy in Vienna, Austria, on 30 March 1922, as the son of a Turkish diplomat and a Czechoslovakian Jewish mother. After the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany and his parents' divorce, he and his mother emigrated to the U.S. in 1940, settling in Los Angeles.
Bey was an acting student at Ben Bard's School of Dramatic Art and was active in the Pasadena Playhouse.
When he enrolled in classes to improve his English, he also was asked to play a role in a teacher's play. A talent scout from Warner Brothers was in the audience, was impressed and signed him to a contract, under the name of Turhan Bey.
He often appeared with María Montez; they appeared in the Universal films Raiders of the Desert, Arabian Nights, White Savage, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Bowery to Broadway, Follow the Boys, and Sudan. He also had roles in Night in Paradise, The Amazing Mr. X and Out of the Blue. In 1944 a poll by exhibitors of "Stars of Tomorrow" listed him at number nine.
Turhan's career faded by the late 1940s and, after filming Sam Katzman's Prisoners of the Casbah in 1953, and facing an unknown scandal, he moved back to Vienna and lived with his mother while working as a photographer for girlie magazines. Turhan returned to the United States in the early 1990s and appeared in two episodes of the science fiction TV series Babylon 5: first as the Emperor of the Centauri Republic (who also had the name Turhan), and later as a Minbari Ranger named Turval. A documentary film about Turhan, Vom Glück verfolgt. Wien - Hollywood - Retour, was made in 2002 by Andrea Eckert.
Turhan died on 30 September 2012 from Parkinson's disease.
In popular culture
Turhan Bey's long absence from Hollywood was referenced in the first part of the 1969 Get Smart episode "To Sire, With Love". Maxwell Smart claims that after appearing in an unspecified movie involving mummies, Bey was cursed and his career never recovered.
|1941||Shadows on the Stairs||Ram Singh|
|1941||Footsteps in the Dark||Ahmed|
|1941||Raiders of the Desert||Hassen Mohammed|
|1941||Burma Convoy||Mr. Yuchau|
|1941||The Gay Falcon||Manuel Retana|
|1941||Bombay Clipper||Captain Chundra|
|1942||Junior G-Men of the Air||Henchman Araka|
|1942||The Falcon Takes Over||Jules Amthor||Uncredited|
|1942||Danger in the Pacific||Tagani|
|1942||Drums of the Congo||Juma, Henchman|
|1942||Destination Unknown||Captain Muto|
|1942||The Mummy's Tomb||Mehemet Bey|
|1942||Arabian Nights||Captain of the Guard|
|1943||The Adventures of Smilin' Jack||Kageyama||Serial film|
|1943||Captive Wild Woman||End Narrator||Voice, Uncredited|
|1943||Background to Danger||Hassan|
|1943||Crazy House||Turhan Bey||Uncredited|
|1943||The Mad Ghoul||Eric Iverson|
|1944||Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves||Jamiel|
|1944||Dragon Seed||Lao Er Tan - Middle Son|
|1944||The Climax||Franz Munzer|
|1944||Bowery to Broadway||Ted Barrie|
|1945||Frisco Sal||Dude Forante|
|1946||Night in Paradise||Aesop|
|1947||Out of the Blue||David Gelleo|
|1948||Adventures of Casanova||Lorenzo|
|1948||The Amazing Mr. X||Alexis|
|1948||Parole, Inc.||Barney Rodescu|
|1949||Song of India||Gopal|
|1953||Prisoners of the Casbah||Ahmed|
|1993||SeaQuest DSV||Dimitri Rossovich||TV series (one episode: "Treasure of the Mind")|
|1994||Possessed by the Night||Calvin|
|1995||Murder, She Wrote||Sherif Faris||TV series (one episode: "Death 'N Denial")|
|1995||VR.5||Abernathy||TV series (one episode: "Reunion")|
|1995||Grid Runners||Dr. Cameron|
|1997||The Visitor||TV series (one episode: "The Black Box")|
|1995, 1998||Babylon 5||Centauri Emperor Turhan / Turval||TV series (two episodes: "The Coming of Shadows" and "Learning Curve" )|
|2000||The Skateboard Kid II||Zeno, an Angel|
|2002||Vom Glück verfolgt. Wien - Hollywood - Retour||Himself||TV documentary|