Renowned Turkish actor Tarık Akan, one of the most notable names of the "Yeşilçam" era of modern Turkish cinema, has died at the age of 66 on Friday in Istanbul, after battling cancer for one month.
Akan, who's real name was Tahsin Tarık Üregil, was born in Istanbul on Dec. 13, 1949. Due to his father's assignments as a military officer, Akan began elementary school in Erzurum and finished it in Kayseri. Following his father's retirement, Akan began to live with his family in Istanbul's Bakırköy district. He first enrolled to the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Yıldız Technical University. After his graduation, he decided to study journalism.
Before he stepped into the glamorous life of cinema, Akan worked as a lifeguard on Bakırköy beach and as a street vendor. He won "The Cinema Artist Competition" of Ses Magazine in 1970 and assumed his stage name, Tarık Akan. He first got in front of the camera for his 1971 film "Solan Bir Yaprak Gibi" (Like A Dying Leaf).
In a sequence from the 1976-dated cult comedy movie "Hababam Sınıfı Sınıfta Kaldı," Tarık Akan (R) is seen with Halit Akçatepe (L) and Kemal Sunal (C), who also shocked Turkish cinema enthusiasts with his untimely death in 2000.
Between 1970 and 1975, Akan starred in 12 films and made a name for himself in "the brightest period of Yeşilçam." Akan played the character "Damat Ferit" in director Ertem Eğilmez's cinema adaptation of Rıfat Ilgaz's "Hababam Sınıfı" (Chaos Class), which is called one of the best films and comedies in Turkish cinema history. He also starred in the 1975 film "Ah Nerede" (Oh, Where is He) alongside Gülşen Bubikoğlu and became one of the most sought after stars of Yeşilçam in the 70s.
He garnered huge fame with movies like the "Bizim Aile" (Our Family) and "Mavi Boncuk" (Blue Bead) that brought him together with the finest comedy actors at the time. He often portrayed the handsome, charming figure of the gang. Akan was also the leading character in various romance movies of the time. He acted in 111 movies as well as in four TV series throughout his career.
Starting from 1977, Akan took roles in more politically-motivated films that portrayed the problems in daily life in rural Anatolia, which brought him international recognition.
Akan in the famous poster for the movie "Yol."
In 1977 the film "Sürü" (The Heard) which is directed by Zeki Ökten, Akan acted alongside Melike Demirağ and Tuncel Kurtiz. In his critically acclaimed film "Maden" (Mine), Akan starred with Cüneyt Arkın. The actor gained international fame with his role in "Yol"(Road), which is directed by Şerif Gören and written by Yılmaz Güney. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and Akan was nominated for "Best Actor" for his role in "Yol."
He received an Honorable Mention at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival in 1985 with the movie "Pansiyon."
Akan's 1990 film "Karartma Geceleri" (Blackout Nights) became one of the classics of Yeşilçam.
Akan was also known for his politically leftward stance and was put on trial and imprisoned for two and a half months in 1981 for criticizing the September 12, 1980 coup in a speech in Germany. He described his prison days in his book named 'Anne Kafamda Bit Var' (Mom I have lice).
Akan also founded a private school and was the chairman of the Nesin Foundation, founded by famous writer Aziz Nesin.