He was a star for about 15 minutes in the 1940s. But what leading ladies, both on and off screen.

He dated Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.

For the record, our man above was born with the name of Turhan Selahattin Sahultavy?

Turhan Bey was actually a pretty popular figure in 1940’s Hollywood, who excelled at portraying a range of exotic, mysterious and unsavory characters. He was virtually the star of a string of profitable Universal escapist movies, set in far-flung locations (but filmed on the back lot).

He is not exactly a household name these days even among classic movie savants. But there’s no questioning Bey’s movie popularity in the 1940’s. (A theater exhibitor poll of “stars of tomorrow” in 1944 voted him among the top 10  screen personalities.)

Offscreen he was a womanizer who caught the attentions of more than one female star of the period. That was roughly the mid-Forties when, as Bey once put it, one was young and good looking, and it seems those were the very two things everyone was looking for. Ah, Hollywood in the Forties.

Some things you may not have known about our man:

Bey was a favorite of Forties fanzines, which dubbed him ‘The Turkish Delight.’  He was the product of Turkish father and a Czech-Jewish mother.  It was a newspaper reviewer who later referred to him as a boyish Valentino.

— Bey of Turkish extraction was actually born in 1922 in Vienna.  At the time, his father was serving as a military attache in the Turkish Embassy in the Austrian capital.(Bey returned to the city after his Hollywood career ended, and died there at age 90 in 2012.)

Bey’s most frequent female costar was Maria Montez.  The “Caribbean Cyclone” and Bey costarred in seven movies: Raiders of the Desert, Arabian Nights, White Savage, Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves, Bowery to Broadway, Follow the Boys and Sudan.

Bey never married, but came very close to wedding Lana Turner. Bey and Lana came on hot and heavily in 1944, and Bey was intent on matrimony.  But his mother disapproved of Turner’s notoriously wayward ways, and the romance fizzled.

Originally destined to study science, Bey enjoyed a long, personal friendship with none other than Albert Einstein. He met Einstein through a mathematician uncle, and a friendship that last years blossomed.

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