When I was just 10 years old I had fallen in love with my first movie star. The actor in question is Turhan Bey. I know, I know, not a name that jumps up and bites everyone. So I have a picture of him …
(oh woof!) So.. this is Turhan Bey, along with Maria Montez in a scene from Ali Baba and the Fourty Thieves. Turhan was the slave, that helped Jon Hall protect Maria Montez… and I was going to grow up and marry Turhan and he was going to protect me the way he protected Maria Montez! (there was no doubt in my mind!)
It was definitely love. Well, whatever love is to a 10 year old, .. that’s what I had! Then one day (I’m not sure how old I was.. maybe 12) I heard that Turhan Bey had died. I was heartbroken! How dare he die and not marry me!
Fast forward 35 years or so.. I was lying in bed in Encino California listening to a radio show called “Greg Hunter Show”. It was a call in show where all the people that called in discussed old movies or old actors, with the exception of one man who would call in and give a “review” of an old movie and then a “new” movie.
As I listened to the calls I heard a man say to Mr Hunter,
“I hear your friend Turhan Bey is going to do a guest appearance on Seahunt.”
I did the best sit up in bed that I had ever done in my life!
But he’s dead!
I continued to listen and learned that Turhan Bey was, (duh) not dead but had moved back to Vienna, where he had taken care of his mother over the years. And indeed he was going to make a guest appearance on Seahunt.
My jaw dropped to the floor and I nearly fell out of bed rushing around looking for a blank VHS tape! OMG! I can’t miss this! I have to be ready and tape Seahunt! (Seahunt wasn’t going to be on for 3 days but I couldn’t leave anything to chance!)
It was a loooooooong 3 days! Finally, the day arrived and I had my tape ready.
Would I recognize him after all these years?
Would he still feel special to me?
I sat about a foot away from the tv with the vhs machine running and anxiously waiting Turhan’s arrival. I scrutinized each character that I didn’t recognize from the show.. is that him? or that?
Then a new character walked on and I knew before he even opened his mouth to hear his wonderful accent.. it was Turhan Bey. Of course he was old now.. (but then, so was I!) he had lost most of his hair, but there was no denying those eyes or that voice.. it was him! I watched the show I discovered that I had a huge grin on my face, …proving, once and for all, that you never forget your first love.
Of course I grew up and I didn’t marry Turhan Bey (sigh).. but oh, it was a sweet love affair when I was just 10 years old!
That should be the end of this journal page.. but my mind kept going so I decided to add to it.
There was more that occurred after I found out that Turhan Bey was alive and well and doing guest appearances.. I knew the minute I saw him that I had to write to him.
Normally, when I write to an actor I first call SAG (Screen Actors Guild) in Hollywood and find out who their agent is, then I call the agent and ask if they will forward a letter to the actor. They always, say yes but since I am going to write I always want to be sure they get it.
So I called SAG.. but received an unexpected response…
“Sorry we don’t have Turhan Bey listed with anyone.”
“Ummm, excuse me? He just did a guest appearance on Seaquest, he “must” have an agent again? “
“No,.. sorry.. no listing.”
“Ok, so how do I find an address for Mr Bey? “
“You can call the production department of Seaquest, they should know.”
“Oohhh, right, ok.. by any chance do you have a number?”
“Sorry, I don’t… (hangup).”
Sigh.. oh well I looked up Seaquest and found out which studio produced the show and called there for the Production Dept. Wouldn’t you know it.. they were closed! But a woman did answer the phone and was so very nice to look up who they contacted to get Turhan Bey for the show! Taaadaaa! I had an address!
Subsequently, I went about typing a four page letter to him, spilling my guts out! I told him EVERYTHING ! How I was in love with him when I was 10.. how I had heard he was dead.. and most importantly how I found out he was alive and doing Seaquest! Oh, I also mentioned how shocked I was when I heard he was alive, how I went crazy looking for a blank vhs, and how I sat right in front of the t.v. waiting for him to appear. (Like he needed to know all of this right?!) At the end I did ask for an autograph.. “if he did them”.
Normally when one writes to an actor and expects a response it can happen anywhere for 6 weeks later to 3 months later. Anything after that, if you haven’t gotten it you probably won’t.
SIX MONTHS PASSED. Nothing. I was a little disappointed but still I was glad I wrote.
About one YEAR later a manilla envelope appeared in my mail.. it was from Turhan Bey!! Inside was an autographed photo AND a short handwritten note to me!! He explained that my letter had gone to his home in Los Angeles but he was at his home in Vienna.. the letter at long last went to Vienna.. by then he was back in Los Angeles! (sheesh) Eventually, the letter caught up with him. He thanked me for remembering him (like I could forget him?… not!) and laughingly said I should be a writer due to the letter I had sent him. LOL..
The picture means a lot to me. I still have the note from him and anytime I look at them I think of that 10 year old girl….. and a memory that has lasted my whole life.
….’till next time…