Kemal Sunal

Kemal Sunal

Infobox actor
name = Kemal Sunal

imagesize =
caption =
birthname =
birthdate = 11 November, 1944
birthplace = Malatya, Turkey
deathdate = 3 July, 2000 (55 years old)
deathplace = Istanbul, Turkey
yearsactive = 1972-1999
academyawards =
spouse =

Kemal Sunal (11 November 1944, Malatya - 3 July 2000, İstanbul) was a master of comedy in the Turkish history of cinema. Famed for his parts as "İnek Şaban", "Salako", "Doktor Civanım", "Sütkardeşler". With "Hababam Sınıfı", "Kapıcılar Kralı" and "Davaro", Sunal earned himself a permanent place in the hearts of Turkish cinema goers.

Early life

Kemal Sunal graduated from Vefa Lisesi (Vefa High School). In his early ages, he started pursuing what was to become a long and successful acting career, in minor roles in theatres.For a brief period, he worked in the Kenterler Theatre and took part in his first play "Zoraki Takip". He was later transferred to the Devekuşu Kabare Theatre, where he performed his acting.


By 1973, he was recognized as a true talent, and started receiving offers for films with larger budgets and more famous casts. His first film was "Tatlı Dillim" by Ertem Eğilmez. In a matter of years, Sunal was co-starring with other actors from the old school, such as Halit Akçatepe, Şener Şen and Münir Özkul.

Perhaps the most famous of all his parts was "İnek Şaban". The simpleminded, artless and innocent member of "Hababam Sınıfı" (The Outrageous Class), was a good laugh for many. İnek Şaban was constantly bullied and humiliated by his friends, but this never kept him from thinking the unthinkable, like digging a tunnel to escape school grounds (which later, turned out to lead to the vice-principal’s office) or smoking in the school attic. The character was so pure and so fixed in the memories of the Turkish people, it was never replaced by another actor in the recent re-shootings of "Hababam Sinifi", most probably as a sign of respect to Sunal.

His other notable characters include: Tosun Pasha, a fake pasha; Süt Kardeş Şaban, a dumb sailor; Çöpçüler Kralı, a foolish garbage man, who fell in love with a municipality officer’s fiancee; Doktor Civanım, a former hospital janitor pretending to be a doctor upon his return to his home village; and finally "Orta Direk Şaban", a naive man trying to become an athlete to impress his crush.

Apart from the hilariousness of his movies, one of the reasons that they were so popular were because they addressed many of the problems faced by the urban poor in Turkey during the 1970s and 1980s. In almost all of his films, Kemal Sunal plays a poor man, trying to make something of himself.

Sunal’s last film was "Propaganda", which was directed by director Sinan Çetin. Sunal, played a customs officer-in-charge (presumably) on the Syrian border. Being a drama, this film was a contrast to his other works. As the plot unfolded, Sunal’s character fell into despair, trying to survive the dilemma between his duties as an officer of the law and his duties as a friend. In public opinion, this film was not the best of jubilees for the master. In fact, it had not been meant to be a jubilee at all. Another significant fact about this film is that it also included Ali Sunal, Kemal Sunal’s son, cast as a junior customs officer.



* "Yalancı Yarim" (1973)
* "Oh Olsun" (1973) .... Fazıl
* "Güllü Geliyor Güllü" (1973)
* "Canım Kardeşim" (1973)
* "Salako" (1974)
* "Salak Milyoner" (1974)
* "Mavi Boncuk" (1974) .... Cafer
* "Köyden İndim Şehire" (1974) .... Saffet
* "Hasret" (1974)... aka Yearning (International: English title)
* "Şaşkın Damat" (1975)
* "Hanzo" (1975)
* "Hababam Sınıfı" (1975) .... İnek Şaban
* "Hababam Sınıfı Sınıfta Kaldı" (1975) .... Şaban
* "Tosun Paşa" (1976) .... Şaban (Fake Tosun Pasha)
* "Süt Kardeşler" (1976) .... Şaban
* "Sahte Kabadayı" (1976)
* "Meraklı Köfteci" (1976)
* "Kapıcılar Kralı" (1976) .... Seyyit
* "Hababam Sınıfı Uyanıyor" (1976) .... Şaban
* "Sakar Şakir" (1977) .... Şakir
* "Şaban Oğlu Şaban" (1977) .... Şaban
* "İbo ile Gülşah" (1977) .... İbo
* "Hababam Sınıfi Tatilde" (1977) .... Şaban

... aka The Dunce Class on Vacation (International: English title)

* "Çöpçüler Kralı" (1977) .... Apti... aka The King of the Street Cleaners (International: English title)
* "Yüz Numaralı Adam" (1978) .... Şaban
* "Köşeyi Dönen Adam" (1978) .... Adem
* "Kibar Feyzo" (1978) .... Feyzo
* "İyi Aile Çocuğu" (1978) .... Kemal/Cemal
* "İnek Şaban" (1978) .... Şaban/Bülent
* "Avanak Apti" (1978) .... Apti
* "Umudumuz Şaban" (1979)
* "Şark Bülbülü" (1979)
* "Korkusuz Korkak" (1979)
* "Dokunmayın Şabanıma" (1979) .... Saban
* "Bekçiler Kralı" (1979)


* "Gol Kralı" (1980) .... Sait Sarıoğlu
* "Zübük" (1980) .... İbrahim Zübükzade
* "Gerzek Şaban" (1980)
* "Devlet Kuşu" (1980) .... Mustafa
* "Üç Kağıtçı" (1981)
* "Kanlı Nigar" (1981)
* "Davaro" (1981)
* "Yedi Bela Hüsnü" (1982) .... Hüsnü
* "Doktor Civanim" (1982)
* "Tokatçı" (1983)
* "Kılıbık" (1983)
* "En Büyük Şaban" (1983)
* "Çarıklı Milyoner" (1983)
* "Şabaniye" (1984)
* "Postacı" (1984)
* "Orta Direk Şaban" (1984)
* "Atla Gel Şaban" (1984)
* "Sosyete Şaban" (1985)
* "Şendul Şaban" (1985) .... Şaban
* "Şaban Pabucu Yarım" (1985) .... Şaban
* "Keriz" (1985) .... Zülfü
* "Katma Değer Şaban" (1985)
* "Gurbetçi Şaban" (1985)
* "Yoksul" (1986)
* "Tarzan Rıfkı" (1986)
* "Garip" (1986)
* "Deli Deli Küpeli" (1986)
* "Davacı" (1986)
* "Yakışıklı" (1987)
* "Kiracı" (1987)
* "Japon İşi" (1987)
* "Uyanık Gazeteci" (1988)
* "Polizei" (1988) (uncredited) .... Ali Ekber
* "Öğretmen" (1988)
* "İnatçı" (1988)
* "Düttürü Dünya" (1988)
* "Dünya Fraggle" (1988) TV Series (voice) .... Boober Fraggle/King Gorg
* "Bıçkın" (1988) .... Ali
* "Zehir Hafiye" (1989)
* "Talih Kuşu" (1989) .... Osman Abalı
* "Gülen Adam" (1989) .... Yusuf;1990s:

* "Kanlı Nigar"(1990)
* "Koltuk Belası" (1990)
* "Boynu bükük Küheylan" (1990)
* "Abuk Sabuk Bir Film" (1990)
* "Varyemez" (1991)
* "Saygılar bizden" (1992) TV Series
* "Bay Kamber" (1996) (mini) TV Series .... Bay Kamber
* "Propaganda" (1999) .... Mehdi

In his successful career, he starred in a total of 84 films. [ [ IMDb] ]

Personal life

Sunal lived a life of modesty. He kept himself and his family away from the media and rarely appeared in public. People, who knew him have commented on how serious he was in his real life, in contrast to the hilarious characters he played in his movies. Whilst he was on top of his career, he decided to graduate from university, which he had left in his early career. Despite his fame, he attended the university like a regular student and stated that "that was the way he liked it to be".

Sunal’s dreams for higher-education had been disrupted in 1980, during the period of military takeover. His attempts for earning a degree finally paid off in 1995, when he earned his bachelor’s degree in Radio Television and Cinema Studies from Marmara University. He then decided to pursue a master’s degree (the topic of his thesis being himself), which he earned in 1998 also from Marmara University. This incident was covered by the media with headlines like "İnek Şaban Master Yaptı" (Şaban the Cow got a master’s degree) while his 'class-mates' from Hababam Sinifi made comments like "Profesorluk Bekliyoruz" ("We expect full professorship"). At his graduation ceremony, he made a speech where he joked that his path of first working and then attending university later in life was better as it allowed people to gain real life experience earlier.

Kemal Sunal died on July 3, 2000 as a result of a sudden heart attack aboard a flight to Trabzon just before take off. He was reported to be afraid of flying. His death caused mourning that swept the entire nation and dominated news coverage for days. He was interred at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in Istanbul.

Kemal Sunal was married to Gül Sunal and he had two children, Ali and Ezo Sunal.

Sunal is still recognized as the Turkish master of comedy. His films are still enjoyed, no matter how many times they are watched or how old they are. His guileless look and naive beam are still causes for a sad but hearty smile. It is not an exaggeration to say that he was loved by everyone regardless of age, view and ethnic background. His place in the hearts of Turks can be exemplified using quotes from Bülent Ecevit, who was Prime Minister when Sunal died and Serdar Erener, famed publicist:

"I am a Kemal Sunal fan. I was never tired of watching his films, nor will I ever be. He was a great artist."

-Bülent Ecevit

"This is not my personal finding but if we were to ask : "What is our greatest common denominator in this country?" the answer would be "Kemal Sunal".

-Serdar Erener


* 1977: 14. Antalya Film Şenliği (14th Antalya Film Festival), Best Actor, Kapıcılar Kralı
* 1998: 35. Antalya Film Şenliği (35th Antalya Film Festival), Life time honorary award, Kapıcılar Kralı
* 1989: 2. Ankara Film Şenliği (2nd Ankara Film Festival), Best Actor, Düttürü Dünya


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