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Turhan Bey, 90, Screen’s ‘Turkish Delight’ 13 octobre 2012

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, USA / Etats-Unis.
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The New York Times (USA) Saturday, October 13, 2012, p. D 8

By Dennis Hevesi

Turhan Bey, whose dark good looks, swept-back hair and soothing, Continental voice brought him fame in swashbuckling films of the 1940s, died in Vienna on Sept. 30. Mr. Bey, who was a fashion photographer in his later years, was 90.

Marita Ruiter, who exhibited his photos in her gallery in Luxembourg, told the Austria Press Agency that the cause was Parkinson’s disease.

The son of a Turkish father and a Jewish mother from Czechoslovakia, Mr. Bey was repeatedly described as « exotic » at the height of his popularity and has been referred to as « the Turkish delight. » Particularly during World War II, when many of Hollywood’s leading men were in the military, he was frequently seen in movie magazines, often in safari clothes.

« He has brought a new personality type to the screen, » Screen Guide magazine wrote of him in 1944. « He is cultured, suave and inscrutable — made to order for moviegoers. » Mr. Bey, who appeared in more than 30 movies, is perhaps best known for his roles in the « Arabian Nights » series, including « Arabian Nights » (1942), « Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves » (1944), « Sudan » (1945) and « Night in Paradise » (1946) — often opposite Jon Hall, Sabu and another actor widely viewed as exotic, Maria Montez.

When « Sudan, » a romantic adventure about a princess whose life and throne are saved by the leader of liberated slaves, was released, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times, « Turhan Bey gives a boyish imitation of Rudolph Valentino as the desert sheik. »

Among Mr. Bey’s many other movies were « The Mummy’s Tomb » (1942), « Drums of the Congo » (1942), « White Savage » (1943), « Adventures of Casanova » (1948) and « Prisoners of the Casbah » (1953).

Mr. Bey’s career began to fade after the likes of Clark Gable and Robert Taylor came home from military service. He returned to his native Vienna in the mid-1950s, and to his childhood passion, photography.

But four decades later, after attending an American Cinema Awards banquet in Hollywood, he decided to step in front of the camera again. He had a guest role on « Murder, She Wrote, » a co-starring role in the 1993 movie « Healer » and a leading role in the science-fiction television series « Babylon 5. »

Turhan Selahattin Sahultavy was born in Vienna on March 30, 1922. His father was a Turkish military attaché assigned to Austria, where he met the woman who would become his wife. After the parents divorced, the child and his mother left Austria to escape the Nazis, eventually arriving in Los Angeles.

No immediate family members survive.

In 1941, after Mr. Bey enrolled in classes to improve his English, his teacher asked him to take part in a play he was staging. A Warner Brothers talent scout happened to be in the audience. He was soon signed to a contract as Turhan Bey.

« It was quite wonderful in those years, » he told The Toronto Star in 1991. « One was young and good-looking, and it seems those were the very two things everyone was looking for. »

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.


1. Latina in Arabian Nights (1942) | Bunnybun's Classic Movie Blog - 25 septembre 2014

[…] only allowed himself to portray Latin characters with sympathy or humanity.  Mixed Turkish-Czech Turhan Bey (Captain of the Guard) was popular in the 40s starring in other films with Montez or Sabu.  Lastly […]

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