Born: March 30, 1922; Died: September 30, 2012.
Turhan Bey, who has died aged 90 after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease, was an actor whose exotic good looks earned him the nickname of Turkish Delight in films with Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn before he left Hollywood for a quieter life in Vienna.
While celebrated for supporting roles alongside Flynn, Hepburn, John Wayne, Peter Lorre and other film greats of the 1940s, friends described Bey as a modest, unassuming man who never bragged of his ties with the stars of the era.
"He was a man brimming with humour, with plenty of aplomb and self-irony, and was very popular," Marita Ruiter, who exhibited Bey's photos in her Luxembourg gallery, told the Austria Press Agency."He wasn't the kind who cared a lot about honours."
Born in Austria as Gilbert Selahettin Schultavey, the son of a Turkish diplomat, Bey assumed his stage name shortly after moving to the US with his Jewish Czech mother from Vienna to escape the Nazis and being discovered by talent scouts from Warner Bros. studios. As a young boy newly arrived in the US, Bey was introduced to Albert Einstein, as Bey's uncle was a mathematician who worked with Einstein. Bey and Einstein kept up a close friendship over the years.
He attended the Ben Bard's School of Dramatic Art in California in order to improve his English. He later enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse where he was discovered by Warner Bros, was given the new name of Turhan Bey, and placed into films starting in 1941.
His popular name was Turkish Delight – a reference to his suave good looks that made him an ideal partner to exotics like Maria Montez in escapist Technicolor adventure fantasies set in faraway places.
He starred or had major roles alongside the big stars of the era in films such as A Night in Paradise, Out of the Blue, and The Amazing Mr X, until the popularity of the genre faded in the 1950s.
Moving back to Vienna, he made a living as a photographer and occasional stage director, again returning after a brief film and television comeback in the 1990s that earned him an Emmy nomination for his performance as the venerable Turval in the Babylon 5 space fantasy TV series.
Turhan Bey never married, although he was once reportedly involved romantically with Lana Turner.
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