Who is Kemal Sunal?

Ali Kemal Sunal (November 10, 1944, Istanbul - July 3, 2000, Istanbul) is a Turkish television, cinema and theater actor.


Kemal Sunal, who achieved a significant breakthrough with the characters he played, is one of the actors that marked the history of Turkish cinema. The artist, who started his art life with theater, turned to cinema films with the realization of Ertem Eğilmez. His first amateur theater play was "Forced Medicine", where he played while studying at Vefa High School. After taking a role as a professional in the Kenterler, Ulvi Araz, Ayfer Feray, and finally the Ostrich Cabaret Theater, Ertem Eğilmez took his first step into the cinema by taking part in the film Sweet Dillim. He has been admired for his “good, pure man” roles in his movies. Even though the comedy films are dominant, the artist has also appeared in drama films. The general feature of the characters in the films he plays is always the "smiling" man who faces injustice, constantly works because of his goodness and purity, struggles with his intelligence and evils and shows people the right way. One of the biggest reasons why Kemal Sunal, who defined himself as "I am a very cold man who speaks very little," is embraced and loved by cinema viewers, is that he is in the films of sociological-socio-economic and political developments that occurred during the shooting of the films. Increases in people's cinemas such as hikes, people who defraud, livelihoods, unemployment, migration and custom bring many more meaning to their films. These are to give social messages in laughter and criticize some subjects with humorous language. The artist has been featured in drama films as well as laugh movies, but has never spoiled the image of “one of us” from the “public” in all the films he has played. At the same time, Kemal Sunal has gained admiration by playing many characters from teacher to guard, doorman to garbage man. He completed his master's degree with his thesis entitled "Kemal Sunal laugh in TV and cinema". The last film of the artist, who took part in 1972 films, was Propaganda, which was released in 82. On July 1999, 3, he died on the plane he got on to shoot the movie named Balalaika, after having a heart attack. The artist is known with the nickname "Laughing man".

Born as a child of a family from Malatya in the Küçükpazar district of Istanbul, the father of the actor is retired from Migros, Mustafa Sunal and his mother is Saime Sunal. Kemal Sunal, the family's eldest child, has two siblings named Cemil and Cengiz. He studied at Primary School Mimar Sinan Primary School and graduated from Vefa High School. Completing high school in 11 years, the artist said, “This was not something that came from my laziness and stupidity. We had a group of 15-20 people. We were passing together, we were staying together. It was a contracted group. It was a kind of mischief, of course ... ”. Although he started his higher education in Journalism Department of Marmara University, he could not continue this department. The artist, who worked in various jobs throughout his education, worked in the Emayetaş Factory and also worked as an apprentice in the electrician. He said, “Our economic situation was not good. My father is retired from Migros. During the summer holidays, I would try to help shoes and book money. ” The artist, who went to the military at the age of 35, did not participate in the trainings and took part in the trainings, saying that he “lacks the order of the unity” because other soldiers started laughing when he saw him. Masters in unity "harmonica harmony" is been distributed to group morale was doing military service in many parts of Turkey on the occasion. While the artist was in the Ostrich cabaret theater, he met Gül Sunal, who would later become his wife during the Ankara tour between 1972-1973, and they got married at the Beyoğlu marriage office in April 1975. They had two children named Ali and Ezo from this marriage. He graduated from the University of Marmara, Faculty of Communication, Department of Radio, Television and Cinema in 12, which he left halfway through on September 1995, and graduated from the university. He completed his master's degree with his thesis entitled "Kemal Sunal laugh in TV and cinema".

The artist states that his profile is different from the characters he plays with the following words; He said, "I am a very cold man who speaks little in my private life" and "I am also meticulous in my work and home life".[10] In his memoir written by his wife, he never made the household feel the weight of his being an artist, and he never spoiled his "family man" profile according to his wife's definition. The artist, who is always on time for dinner, gives importance to family relations and is very good friends with his children in this motto, is always sought for conversation in business, family and neighborhood relations, and is loved by everyone; Unlike the films, it has a structure that does not smile too much and does not like juiciness. The artist, who prefers listening to telling, also has an emotional structure in his own inner world. The artist, who is also a very good archivist, has meticulously and orderly kept items of moral value such as documents, photographs, memoirs, letters about himself and his family, and has meticulously preserved everything, including the pictures drawn by his children. The artist, who likes to wear colorful clothes, often does the shopping for his wife. The artist, who read all the letters that came to him, answered these letters with the same care and sent them to the post office himself. Kemal Sunal is compared to the French comedian and singer Fernandel, both with the physical structure of his face and his facial expressions and gestures. Just like him, Fernandel made countless comedies from the 1930s to the 1960s. In an interview with him, Sunal stated that even comparisons were made for him, such as 'horse-faced', but that he liked most when Zeki Müren described him as 'a mix of Fernandel and Jean-Paul Belmondo'.

Belkıs Balkır, the philosophy teacher at Vefa High School, introduced the artist to Müşfik Kenter, has an important place in Kemal Sunal's career.


Theater period

Her art life began as an amateur at the Vefa High School with the theater play “Zoraki Tabip”. He was selected as the "best character actor" in "Evening Newspaper High School Theater Competition" with a game they played during his high school education. Beginning to work as a professional actor in the Kenterler Theater after Belkıs Balkır introduced himself to Müşfik Kenter, the artist's first role in this theater is “Fadik girl”. The artist, who received a salary of 150 liras here, later played the role of "Mad İbrahim" in the same theater and his salary was 300 liras. The artist, who left here and moved to the Ulvi Uraz Theater, was on stage for 4 years in this theater. In this theater, he portrayed the character of Orhan Kemal in his work called İspinoz. Later, in the play "Guardian Murtaza", he played the guard, and in the second act of the game, he played a coffee shop. The artist, who left this theater and moved to Ayfer Feray Theater, worked here for a year. The artist, who has a salary of 1500 lira in the last theater experience, the Ostrich Cabaret Theater, has now started to play in bigger roles. While they were playing a game called “Yesterday-today”, Zeki Alasya, who had previously gone to the cinema before, invited him to this theater to select the actors he was looking for for his new movie. During this play, Ertem Eğilmez, who liked Kemal Sunal very much, decided to take part in the first cinema experience, Tatlı Dillim. The artist started his cinema career in 1972.
Kemal Sunal expresses his first years and his orientation towards the comedy with the following words;

“I don't know how, I found myself in the audience on a real stage. My first role in the Sound Theater was very short. I was staying on stage for three minutes or not. I don't remember saying that much. I was entering from one end of the stage and exiting from the other end. I don't quite remember what I did; but the audience is breaking with laughter. I like this too. As you know, I love making people laugh that day. ” The question of why did not you continue to the theater said, “The film was preventing theater rehearsals. When I started to disrupt, I thought it would be better for me to quit. ” He replied by saying.

Known theater plays 

  • 1966 - “Fadik Girl” - City Players. In two or three different roles. 
  • 1967 - “Finches” (adaptation of Orhan Kemal) - Ulvi Uraz Theater. the Taşkasapl In the role. 
  • 1967 - “Crazy İbrahim” (Written by: Turan Oflazoğlu, director: Şükran Güngör) - City Players. Carat Hamal Ali In the role.[16]
  • 1968 - “Yalova District Governor” - Arena Theater, Ulvi Uraz Group. 
  • 1968 - “Close My Eyes, Do My Duty” - Arena Theater, Ulvi Uraz Group. 
  • 1968/69 - “Fermanlı Deli His Holiness” - Arena Theater, Ulvi Uraz Group. 
  • 1968 - “Hamhumşarolop” - Arena Theater, Ulvi Uraz Group. 
  • 1969 - “Murtaza” (adaptation of Orhan Kemal) - Ulvi Uraz Theater. Guard ve Coffee shop In roles. 
  • 1969 - “Summer is Ending” - Arena Theater, Ulvi Uraz Group. 
  • 1972 - "Rhino" (Written by Eugène Ionesco) - Ostrich Cabaret Theater. Grocer ve Monsieur Bowtie In roles. 
  • 1972 - “Yesterday Today” (Written by Haldun Taner) - Ostrich Cabaret Theater. 
  • 1973 - “Giant Mirror” (Compiled by: Haldun Taner) - Ostrich Cabaret Theater (staged in Ankara Narcissus Cinema). 

Cinema period

A turning point for Kemal Sunal was experienced when director Ertem Eğilmez discovered himself and played the role of basketball player friend of Tarık Akan in the 1972 film Sweet Dillim. About his first movie, I went to the back the first day, sat down. I only appear 8 times on the screen. In every view, apocalypse broke out in the hall. Big applause and laughter as soon as I see my face. They did not hear words. My face was interesting to the audience. I think he found himself warm and someone. Then I leaned back and said, "This is all right." commented. Director Ertem Eğilmez gave him the role of a passenger with a Kayseri accent in the 1973 Canım Kardeşim film. In the same year, Oh Olsun, Güllü is coming Güllü, Yalancı Yarim has appeared in the films. In 1974, Ertem Eğilmez saw that Kayseri accent was adopted by the public and decided to shoot Salak Millionaire. When this film attracted great interest, it was shot from the Village to the City of Indim, which is a sequel. The script of both films belongs to Sadık Şendil and is the first two films that Kemal Sunal played in major roles. The same year, Sunal, who played the district governor in the Blue Beads movie, started to appear on the screen with Ertem Eğilmez's equal role for everyone. Another point that should not be overlooked in 1974 is that Kemal Sunal is accompanied by Meral Zeren. In the movie Hasret, shot in the same year, the artist working with director Zeki Ökten will take the first lead role after this movie.

The same year, the artist is given the lead role, and the name of this movie is Salako. This time, the director is Atıf Yılmaz. When the calendars showed 1975, these films of the artist who took part in two films of Zeki Ökten are Şaşkın Damat and Hanzo. The artist, who is with Meral Zeren in these films, now plays the leading roles, but is far from his success in the films of Ertem Eğilmez. In this period, Ertem Eğilmez decides to adapt the Hababam Class, the novel Rıfat Ilgaz, which will turn into a legend, for cinema. Since everyone's role in this movie is equal, Kemal Sunal appears more on the screen. The role of “Cow Shaban” played by the artist will be remembered with his name remaining as “Shaban” in the following years. The artist, who played the role of 4 Hababam Class, meets Şener Şen in 1975, with whom he will star in many films. With the two completing each other, the movies they played in came one after another. By 1976, Tosun Pasha, the Eagle Tibetan movie, was shot. Yavuz Turgul wrote the script for this movie. In the same year, Ertem Eğilmez moved back to the director's chair for the Süt Kardeşler film and reunited Şener Şen and Kemal Sunal. In the same year, the movie Curious Meatballs was shot under the direction of Ergin Orbey, and then he played a role in the movie Fake Bully, directed by Natuk Baytan.

Along with Natuk Baytan's different sense of humor, "hero" feature was added to the character of "Saban". Sunal “fought against the evil in the productions in which he portrays the hero of the pure and the people, and opposed injustice with a humorous presentation. This is more evident in the movie “Fake Bully” by Suavi Sualp's pen. The next film of the artist, who made six films in 1976, is the Hababam Class is Awakening, and Ertem Eğilmez is in the director's chair again. The name of Kemal Sunal is at the top of the poster of this Hababam Class. The last movie of this year is the King of the Doormen, who will later bring him the "Best Actor" award. Zeki Ökten made this film, which was from Umur Bugay's pen. The “Seyit” role in this film, which is completely independent of the character of Saban, is a clever, cunning, stingy and officious character and is the first film in which a completely different Kemal Sunal appears. The artist, who made a total of five films in 1977, is the films of the last Hababam Class, directed by Ertem Eğilmez, directed by Hababam Class Holiday, by Natuk Baytan, directed by Sakar Şakir, Umur Bugay and directed by Zeki Ökten, and finally Atıf Yılmaz. The movie is İbo and Güllüşah. This year, the artist received the Best Actor award at the Antalya Film Festival in the movie The King of the Doormen. With the same film, she was named "Best Actor" by the Association of Cinema Writers. The artist interprets these awards as follows;

“I received the best actor award for the movie The King of Porters at the Antalya Film Festival. There is no such thing in Antalya and Turkish cinema history. This award has always been given to the young, not to the comedian. It was the first time that I destroyed that system. Then I got the first award of the Cinema Writers Association with the same movie. After that, I did not make successful films, but we did not send them to the festivals. For this reason, we were not able to win any other prizes. ”

A joint venture company was established in 1978 with Fatma Girik. This movie company is "Can Film". The company produced the first movie of that year with the film Number One, produced by Fatma Girik and Kemal Sunal. The script and directing of this movie belongs to Osman F. Seden. This film, which deals with the misleading aspect of commercials, is an important point for Sunal cinema. After Meral Zeren, Oal Aydoğan accompanies Sunal in this movie. In the same year, Atıak Yilmaz was shot with Atıf Yılmaz, the Man Who Turns Around the Corner, the Screenplay and the Good Family Boy, directed by Osman F. Seden, Avanak Apti, directed by Natuk Baytan, and the most influential film of the period, Kibar Feyzo. In the movie Good Family Boy, Sunal accompanies Sunal this time. Kibar Feyzo film is a political film produced by Ertem Eğilmez. Although this film, which belongs to Arzu Film, has been censored in many stages due to its political stance, it has an important place in Turkish cinema. In this film, besides Şener Şen, Sunal is accompanied by names such as Müjde Ar, İlyas Salman and Adile Naşit. Atıf Yılmaz is the director of this film, whose script belongs to İhsan Yüce. Concepts such as honor and livelihood are frequently covered in the movie.

In 1979, Sunal starred in five films. These; Our hope is Saban, the Song Nightingale, Fearless Coward, Don't Touch My Template and the King of the Watchmen. In these films, he worked with Kartal Tibet, (Our Hope is Shaban, the Song Bulbul), Natuk Baytan and Osman F. Seden (Don't Touch My Template, King of the Guardians). Sunal undertook the production of Don't Touch My Template and the King of the Watchmen together with Fatma Girik. The two producers made these films not to Can Film, which is their own film company, but to Uğur Film. In the song of oriental nightingale, there are references to famous celebrities in a short time. Social wounds, which are also included in the film Our Hope, Saban, are conveyed to the audience within the element of laughter. These films of Sunal, who starred in four films in 1980, are Zübük, Top Scorer, Gerzek Şaban and Devlet Kuşu, adapted from a novel. Sunal has worked with Kartal Tibet (Zübük, Top Scorer) Natuk Baytan and Memduh Ün in these films. Zübük film has political criticism and has been in mind with the character of “İbrahim Zübükzade”. With the 1980 military coup, the vast majority of the films shot at that time were censored and some of the important actors went abroad. Although Sunal has been involved in political films from time to time, he has always been away from polarization.

Many "Saban" movies were shot between 1981 and 1985. Although these films lack quality in the name of Sunal cinema, they have made history as productions that managed to make the audience laugh. In 1981, the artist, who worked with Natuk Baytan in Üç Kağıtçı, Memduh Ün in Kanlı Nigar and Kartal Tibet in Davaro, also starred in three films. These films of Sunal, who appeared in two films in 1982, are Seven Bela Hüsnü (Natuk Baytan) and Doctor Civanım (Kartal Tibet). Oya Aydoğan accompanied the artist in the film Seven Bela Hüsnü. In 1983, he appeared in Tokatçı, (Natuk Baytan) Kılıbık, (Uğur İnan) The Biggest Saban (Eagle Tibet) and Çarıklı Millionaire (Eagle Tibet). Nevra Serezli was accompanied in the movie. As in 1983, the artist who worked mainly with Kartal Tibet in 1984 and 1985 played a role in many "Saban" films in this period. In 1984 Sabaniye, (Kartal Tibet) Postman, (Memduh Ün) Ortadirek Saban, (Kartal Tibet) Skip Gel Şaban (Natuk Baytan) films were shot. Fatma Girik accompanied Sunal in the postman movie. 1985 was the year in which the last one of the “Saban” films, Gurbetçi Saban, was shot, and the artist took part in a total of six films. In all these films, the director is Kartal Tibet. This period, Perihan Savaş, Nevra Serezli and Müge Akyamaç were the names accompanying the artist.

The artist expressed his views on the films "Şaban" as follows;

“Even if we don't name the Saban in the movies, I don't think anything will change. Millet knows as Shaban. This year, the firm made a mistake. My movie name is Niyazi. His name should be Atla Gel Niyazi. The posters, the lobbies were all Skip and Come Shaban. One person from the audience did not say, your name in the movie is Niyazi, and the poster is Şaban. He didn't even notice. Kemal Sunal's name is what happens if he is Niyazi, what happens if Saban is? ”

Sunal cinema no longer has the film "Saban" and a completely different page has been opened for its cinema. In 1986, he worked with Poor and Plaintiff, Zeki Ökten, Natuk Baytan in Tarzan Rıfkı, Memduh Ün in Garip, and Kartal Tibet in Deli Deli Earring. While the poor film stands out with its clear expression, the films Davacı and Deli Deli Küpeli come to the fore as “political grinding”. In addition, Garip movie stands out with its drama aspect. This period, Sunal appeared to the audience with stories from the public. The films of the artist, who took part in three films in 1987, are Handsome, Tenant (Orhan Aksoy) and Japanese Business (Kartal Tibet). In the movie tenant, there are references to the housing problem of that period. 1988 is the year when the movies that are important for Sunal cinema were shot and will bring a new award to Sunal. Awake Journalist, Cute Thief, Stubborn, Teacher, (Eagle Tibet) Polizei, (Şerif Gören) Düttürü Dünya, (Zeki Ökten) Bickin (Orhan Aksoy) are the films that he played in this period. Polizei, Teacher and Düttürü Dünya films are different from other films. In the movie Polizei, the problems experienced by expatriates were addressed, while in the Teacher movie, problems such as livelihood, transportation and housing problems were addressed and the big dreams of small people were included in the film Düttürü Dünya. With this film, the artist received the "Best Actor" award at the Ankara International Film Festival. Umur Bugay is the screenwriter of this movie.

In 1989, Sunal appeared in three films, these are Zehir Hafiye, (Orhan Aksoy) Talih Kuşu, and Gülen Adam. (Kartal Tibet) In 1990, Sunal starred in three films. These are Seat Trouble, (Eagle Tibet) Abuk Sabuk Film (Şerif Gören) and Boynu Bükük Küheylan (Erdoğan Tokatlı). The artist, who took a role in a single film in 1991, is Varyemez and is the director Orhan Aksoy. The year 1999 was the year in which the artist's latest feature film, Propaganda, was shot, and Metin Akpınar accompanies him in this film. Propaganda, which is the movie of Sinan Çetin, is a completely different production in Sunal's cinema career. Because the artist has adopted the role of “customs officer Mehdi” just like in all his other professional roles and has put Kemal Sunal in front of the audience, which is dominant in the drama. In 2000, he agreed to star in the movie Balalaika.

TV series

Kemal Sunal has appeared in some TV series. These series are low budget and shown in various channels of the period. The artist has often said that the series are shot very quickly, the scripts are created quickly and the series are blinding the artists' talents. These series are in 1992, Saygılar Bizden, 1993 Saban Askerde, 1994 Mr. Kamber and finally 1997 Saban and Şirin.


Year Book Publisher ISBNs
1998 Kemal Sunal's Smile in TV and Cinema Flood Publications ISBN 9755702628
2001 Kemal Sunal Smile Om Publisher ISBN 9756827793

Receives awards 

Year Prize Category Production Conclusion
1977 14th Antalya Film Festival The best actor King of the Porters Won
1998 35th Antalya Film Festival Lifetime Honor Award Kendi Won
1989 2nd Ankara Film Festival The best actor Understanding World Won


Sunal has always preferred land vehicles in his journeys throughout his personal life and career and stated that he was afraid of aircraft and watercraft. In various festivals, the artist's phobia, which could not reach the award ceremonies by land vehicle, remained a fear that he could not overcome during his life. On July 3, 2000, he had a heart attack on the plane of Trabzon, where he got on the shooting of the movie Balalayka. It is thought that his death caused a series of chains of negligence. Zeki Alasya expressed her view on Sunal's death as follows;

“It was impossible to get on board this plane by forcing himself to avoid anyone having to go by bus to the place where the film was to be shot.”

According to the news of Milliyet and Hürriyet newspapers, the personnel on the plane were ignorant of first aid and there was no doctor in the ambulance called. The doctor of the artist, who was taken to the "International Hospital" hospital, stated that Sunal had a heart disease and explained that he used heart medications. According to the news of NTV, DSP Istanbul deputy Erol Al, who was on the same plane as Kemal Sunal, stated that there was a heavy negligence and negligence in the death of the artist. The cabin crew of the plane stated that they were not able to intervene in the artist and stated that "we have no training for this, we just tried to relax". DHMI and Medline made various explanations about the health teams' reaching the plane in 12 minutes and the artist being taken off the plane and taken to the hospital after 35 minutes. These statements and health measures at the airport are considered to be inadequate.

The first ceremony for the artist was held at the Atatürk Cultural Center. This ceremony started with the artist's body being brought to the stage at 08.30, with the replacement of the family.

Customs officers were accompanied by the body of Sunal, which was removed from the AKM to be taken to the Teşvikiye Mosque with a police band. Sunal, who played the character of "Customs Guard Officer Mehdi" in the Propaganda film shot in 1999, carried six photographs from the Istanbul Customs Guard Directorate with his son. Lovers of cortege from Taksim to Teşvikiye Mosque had difficulty in reaching the Mosque due to intense interest. During the funeral prayer, which was held after the noon prayer, the police took security precautions due to the intense interest and customs guard officers kept a vigil at the beginning of the coffin. After the funeral prayer, the artist's body, which was moved to Rumeli street on the hands, was put in the car and set out towards Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. The name of Sunal was given to the streets, streets and stops immediately after his death.

After his death

After his death, various institutions and settlements were named to keep his memory alive. On 11 November 2014, he prepared and published a special doodle on the Google Turkish search engine for the birthday of Kemal Sunal. On July 3, 2015, IETT organized the stop named Kemal Sunal within the scope of loyalties.

Public Bus Station

Due to the 15th year of the artist's death, IETT organized the stop of the same name within the scope of “loyalty stops”. The stop is covered with films starring Sunal and photographs of the artist.

Books about

  • Gul SunalCome on Kemal Come on, Let's Drink Coffee, Doğan Kitap,
  • Feriha Karasu Gurses, Kemal Sunal Film Another Life Another, Flood Publications, Istanbul 2002,
  • Nuran Turan, Kemal Sunal As a Child, Önel Publishing House,
  • Vadullah Tas, Kemal Sunal Explains His Movies, Esen Kitap

Vakıfbank Kemal Sunal Art Center 

Vakıfbank Art Center, which is the Private Sector Cultural Center established in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, is named after Kemal Sunal. 

Kemal Sunal Culture and Art Award 

A survey was conducted in memory of Kemal Sunal at the Vefa High School, where he graduated, and as a result of the survey, it was decided to give "Kemal Sunal Culture and Art Award" to successful and popular artists. 

📩 04/08/2020 00:05

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