Seher Şeniz (1948 – 1992)

Seher Şeniz aka Seher Başdaş: Turkish actor, model and dancer, born 1 March 1948, İzmir Turkey; died 14 May 1992, Istanbul Turkey – suicide by morphine overdose.

Şeniz’s career coincided with the heyday of Yeşilçam (“Green Pine” – the Hollywood of Istanbul) which saw Turkey produce up to 300 films a year, mostly a combination of action, crime and drama. Her first credit is the Turkish crime-comedy Kelle koltukta (‘Kelle in the armchair’ 1962), followed by vamp and femme fatale roles in the 1960s, culminating in the role of Lotus – a villainous Chinese pirate queen – in the epic Tarkan: Viking Kani (aka Tarkan and the Blood of the Vikings 1971). In the early 1970s, Turkish films peaked in sexual explicitness and exploitation but the industry declined with political instability and collapsed after the 1980 military coup. Seniz featured in Turkish Playboy in 1981, appeared – uncredited – as a belly-dancer in an episode of The Love Boat (TV 1982) and lived in Paris 1984 – 1989, working as a stripper.

Forced into marriage at age 15 to a much older man: “‘When I got married I did not even know the exact biological difference between a man and a woman. I was so embarrassed, my first night was a total disaster. I hid in the bathroom for 3 hours.” It lasted only a month), she won a beauty contest at Caddebostan Beach in 1965, then achieved notoriety in another beauty contest the following year by throwing her second prize “in the judges’ faces.” Alongside acting, she worked as a model, nightclub dancer and stripper. Her second marriage was to an American, Anthony Wilkins; her third marriage to Teknur Kiraz, an Armenian, while she lived in Paris. She attempted suicide in 1984 after the end of an affair with a married businessman, drinking a homemade Mogadon cocktail. Found by a journalist who turned up for an interview appointment, she was rushed to the American Hospital in Istanbul. When she gained consciousness 12 hours later, her first words were “I want to die.” In 1992, she told her brother she was going away for a holiday but he found her lifeless body in her apartment with a suicide note. She had consumed over 100 morphine pills and two bottles of whiskey.

“I finally helped myself to go from this disgusting world. It would be a joke to say that death was hard to try. At the age of 15, I learned what people are worth. I was not created to be a prostitute, or overly sensitive and emotional. Nobody knows I’m dead. Burn your wigs and blow your ashes. I do not want to be buried according to Muslim traditions. Wrap me up with a white birthday and close everywhere so much “

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