Iconic actor of Turkish cinema commemorated
Akan’s family, veteran actors of the Turkish cinema industry and loyal fans of the movie star attended the commemoration ceremony held in Zuhuratbaba Cemetery in the Bakırköy district.
“It seems like a long time from the outside, but our pain makes it seem like it was only yesterday. Unfortunately, that pain does not go away,” Barış Üregül, the actor’s son, said in a speech he made during the memorial.
After the ceremony, the fans of the artist left carnations on the grave.
Separately, Akan was commemorated at the traditional ‘Respect to the Masters Night’ organized by Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece Municipality on the 107th anniversary of Turkish cinema.
“We got together a lot in Bakırköy with Tarık Akan and many artists of the period. They were our older brothers,” said Büyükçekmece Mayor Hasan Akgün, noting that the actor had contributed to Turkish cinema, but he was also a thinker with his intellectual background.
The program continued with a movie in which Akan took the leading role.
A road from prison to Cannes
Akan began school in the northeastern province of Erzurum but finished it in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri due to his father’s postings as a military officer.
Following his father’s retirement, he began to live with his family in Istanbul and enrolled at Yıldız Technical University to become a mechanical engineer, but then 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.
However, he hit the jackpot when he won a competition of Ses, a monthly magazine, in 1970 with a style and appearance reminiscent of the Hollywood stars of the period.
He first appeared in front of the camera for his 1971 movie “Solan Bir Yaprak Gibi” (Like A Dying Leaf).
Between 1970 and 1975, Akan starred in 12 films and made a name for himself in the brightest period of Yeşilçam, also known as Turkey’s Hollywood.
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.
Since he was portrayed as the handsome and charming figure of Turkish romantic comedies, 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.
Known for his politically leftward stance, the actor took roles in more politically-motivated films that portrayed the problems in daily life rural Anatolia, which brought him international recognition toward the end of the 1970s.
However, the 1980 military coup, which deeply affected almost everyone in Turkey, did not leave the actor unaffected, leading him to be imprisoned for two and a half months in 1981 for criticizing the coup in a speech in Germany.
He chronicled his days in prison in a book called “Mother, I Have Lice.”
Amid the tough times, the actor gained international fame with his role in “Yol” (Road), 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. He received an Honorable Mention at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival in 1985 with the movie “Pansiyon.”
Training the younger generations by giving acting classes during the 2000s, the Yeşilçam star acted in 111 films and four television series throughout his career.
He died at the age of 66 in 2016 after battling lung cancer.