1940s Hollywood actor dies in Austria
Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 8:00 pm
VIENNA (AP) — Turhan Bey, an actor whose exotic good looks earned him the nickname of “Turkish Delight” in films with Errol Flynn and Katherine Hepburn before he left Hollywood for a quieter life in Vienna, has died. He was 90.
Marita Ruiter, who exhibited Bey’s photos in her Luxembourg gallery, told the Austria Press Agency on Tuesday that Bey died in the Austrian capital on Sept. 30 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and was cremated on Monday.
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 humor, with plenty of aplomb and self-irony, and was very popular,” Ruiter was quoted as saying. “He wasn’t the kind who cared a lot about honors.”
Born in Austria as Gilbert Selahettin Schultavey, the son of a Turkish diplomat, Bey assumed his stage name shortly after moving to the United States with his Jewish Czech mother from Vienna to escape the Nazis and being discovered by talent scouts from Warner Bros. studios.
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 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.
Funeral arrangements were not announced.
Published in The Messenger 10.10.12