Turkey’s famous screenwriter dies

Turkey’s famous screenwriter dies

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey’s famous screenwriter dies

Meral Okay, who was recently working on the script of the popular TV series ‘A Magnificent Century,’ died of lung cancer yesterday at the age of 53. Hürriyet photo

Meral Okay, the screenwriter of some of the best known Turkish TV series including “İkinci Bahar” (Second Spring), “Asmalı Konak” (Asmalı Mansion) and the recent hit “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (A Magnificent Century), died yesterday morning in her home.

Okay, who died of lung cancer at age 53, will be buried today in Istanbul’s Zincirlikuyu Cemetery after afternoon prayers at Bebek Mosque.

Rumors about Okay’s disease appeared a few months ago, and she was seen leaving a hospital with singer Sezen Aksu in January. At the time, she said she was taking both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. “My health is good. There is nothing to worry about. I don’t complain about writing the script for ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’ even though it sometimes makes me tired.”

Born on Sept. 20, 1959, in Ankara, Okay was a member of the Turkish Workers’ Party (TİP) at the time of the Sept. 12, 1980, coup. She married actor Yaman Okay in 1984 but he died of cancer 10 years later at the age of 41.

She then moved to Istanbul and began working for daily Günaydın while also writing song lyrics. She became well-known for the TV series “İkinci Bahar,” starring legendary actress Türkan Şoray and the incomparable Şener Şen. She also produced a film.

Okay appeared as an actress in TV series and films like “Bir Bulut Olsam” (If I Were a Cloud), “Beynelmilel” (International), “Yeditepe Istanbul” (Istanbul Seven Hills) and “Seni Seviyorum Rosa” (I Love You, Rosa).

Most recently she was working on the script for “Muhteşem Yüzyıl.”

Okay’s friends and relatives came to her house to pay their condolences yesterday morning. “She sometimes made us cry, sometimes made us laugh. And she sometimes brought us together with history. She was an important artist. May god rest her soul,” said Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül.

Journalist Reha Muhtar said both he and Okay were from Ankara. “I was born in the same year as Okay. After coups, tortures and deaths, everyone tried to get a job. Meral became a screenwriter and wrote the most beautiful scripts. We lost one of the most important representatives of the Sept. 12 coup period.”

Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay also issued a message, saying he felt deep sorrow because of her death. “It deeply shook us that the shining eyes of our valuable artist, who had been getting treatment for a long time, have closed forever. She will be remembered for her smiling face, humble and maternal personality,” Günay said.