The Introduction of Turhan

turhan bey, 1940s, actor, baby name, turhan
Turhan Bey

The rare name Turhan first appeared in the national dataset in 1944:

  • 1947: 7 baby boys named Turhan
  • 1946: 13 baby boys named Turhan
  • 1945: 6 baby boys named Turhan
  • 1944: 8 baby boys named Turhan [debut]
  • 1943: unlisted

The reason?

Hollywood actor Turhan Bey, who was a half-Turkish, half-Czech, Austrian-born actor who typically played exotic characters in Hollywood films during the 1940s and early 1950s. Fan magazines called him the “Turkish Delight.”

He was at the peak of his fame in the mid-1940s, so it’s hard to link this to one particular movie. That said, his name may have been boosted onto the charts in 1944 specifically thanks to the movie Dragon Seed, in which he played Lao Er (the husband of Jade, played by Katharine Hepburn).

He was born Turhan Gilbert Selahattin Sahultavy. The name Turhan, primarily (but not always) used for males, is “an old Turkish name meaning chief or nobleman.” And the Turkish word bey has a similar meaning: “ruler” or “chief.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Turhan?

Sources:

  • Fortna, Benjamin C. “The Ottoman Educational Legacy.” Turkey’s Engagement with Modernity: Conflict and Change in the Twentieth Century, ed. by C. Kerslake, K. Öktem, P. Robins, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 15-26.
  • Room, Adrian. Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins. 5th ed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2010.
  • Turhan Bey – Wikipedia
  • Bey – Wiktionary

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