Kemal Sunal

Kemal Sunal
Born (1944-11-11)November 11, 1944
Istanbul, Turkey
Died July 3, 2000(2000-07-03) (aged 55)
Flight between Istanbul, Turkey and Trabzon, Turkey
Years active 1964-2000

Kemal Sunal (11 November 1944, in İstanbul, Turkey 3 July 2000, in Istanbul) was a Turkish actor. With Hababam Sınıfı, Kapıcılar Kralı and Davaro, Sunal gained large popularity amongst Turkish cinema goers and was famed for his role as "Şaban", a name he most often used in his films. His character in films and sayings often reflected the problems the Turkish people face and the country.


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 Tabip. He was later transferred to the Devekuşu Kabare Theatre, where he performed his acting.

He was recognized as a real talent, and started receiving offers with larger budgets and more famous casts. His first film was by Ertem Eğilmez. In a matter of years, Sunal co-starred with Halit Akçatepe, Şener Şen, Münir Özkul and so on.

Perhaps the most famous of all his parts was when he played in the "hababam sinifi" and was known by the name of "Şaban" but most of his class mates just call him inek (cow) Şaban. The 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; Süt Kardeş Şaban; Çöpçüler Kralı, 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 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.


The filmography of Turkish actor Kemal Sunal comprises both film and television roles spanning almost 27 years. In his successful career, he starred in a total of 87 films.[1]

Year Film Role
1972 Tatlı Dillim Basketballer
1973 Oh Olsun Fazıl
1973 Güllü Geliyor Güllü Kiralık Katil
1973 Canım Kardeşim Yolcu
1973 Yalancı Yarim Kemal
1974 Hasret Yanık
1974 Salak Milyoner Saffet
1974 Köyden İndim Şehire Saffet
1974 Salako Salako
1974 Mavi Boncuk Kaymakam Cafer
1975 Şaşkın Damat Apti
1975 Hanzo Hanzo / Cabbar
1975 Hababam Sınıfı İnek(Cow) Şaban
1975 Hababam Sınıfı Sınıfta Kaldı İnek(Cow) Şaban
1976 Tosun Paşa Şaban / Tosun Pasha
1976 Süt Kardeşler Şaban
1976 Sahte Kabadayı Kemal
1976 Meraklı Köfteci Zühtü Karışan
1976 Kapıcılar Kralı Seyid
1976 Hababam Sınıfı Uyanıyor İnek(Cow) Şaban
1977 Sakar Şakir Şakir
1977 Şabanoğlu Şaban Şaban
1977 İbo İle Güllüşah İbrahim
1977 Hababam Sınıfı Tatilde İnek(Cow) Şaban
1977 Çöpçüler Kralı Abdi Şakrak
1978 Yüz Numaralı Adam Şaban
1978 Köşeyi Dönen Adam Adem
1978 Kibar Feyzo Feyzo
1978 İyi Aile Çocuğu Kemal / Cemal
1978 İnek Şaban Şaban / Bülent
1978 Avanak Apti Apti
1979 Umudumuz Şaban Ringo Şaban
1979 Şark Bülbülü Şaban Ballıses
1979 Korkusuz Korkak Mülayim Sert
1979 Dokunmayın Şabanıma Şaban
1979 Bekçiler Kralı Şaban Özgüneş
1980 Zübük İbrahim Zübükzade
1980 Gol Kralı Sait Sarıoğlu
1980 Gerzek Şaban Osman / Seyfi
1980 Devlet Kuşu Mustafa
1981 Üç Kağıtçı Rıfkı

Year Film Role
1981 Kanlı Nigar Abdi
1981 Davaro Memo
1982 Yedi Bela Hüsnü Hüsnü
1982 Doktor Civanım Kemal
1983 Tokatçı Osman
1983 Kılıbık Kamil
1983 En Büyük Şaban Şaban
1983 Çarıklı Milyoner Bayram
1984 Şabaniye Şaban / Şabaniye
1984 Postacı Yandan Çarklı Adem
1984 Ortadirek Şaban Şaban
1984 Atla Gel Şaban Niyazi
1985 Sosyete Şaban Şaban Ağa / Dilaver Bey
1985 Şendul Şaban Şaban
1985 Şaban Papuçu Yarım Şaban
1985 Keriz Zülfü
1985 Katma Değer Şaban Şaban
1985 Gurbetçi Şaban Şaban
1986 Yoksul Yoksul
1986 Tarzan Rıfkı Tarzan Rıfkı
1986 Garip Kemal
1986 Deli Deli Küpeli Kaymakam
1986 Davacı Yunus
1987 Yakışıklı Selim
1987 Kiracı Kerim
1987 Japon İşi Veysel
1988 Uyanık Gazeteci Ali
1988 Sevimli Hırsız Metin
1988 Polizei Ali Ekber
1988 Öğretmen Teacher Hüsnü
1988 İnatçı Bayram
1988 Düttürü Dünya Düt Düt Mehmet
1988 Bıçkın Ali / Kemal Sunal
1989 Zehir Hafiye Cemal
1989 Talih Kuşu Osman Abalı
1989 Gülen Adam Yusuf Şaplak
1990 Koltuk Belası Zühtü Kaya
1990 Boynu Bükük Küheylan İbrahim Küheylan
1990 Abuk Sabuk Bir Film Âdemoğlu
1991 Varyemez Ragıp Elibol
1999 Propaganda Mehdi

Television series

Year Film Role
1992 Saygılar Bizden
1993 Şaban Askerde Şaban
1995 Şaban İle Şirin Şaban
1996 Bay Kamber Bay Kamber[2]

Personal life

Sunal 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 funny characters he played in his movies. Whilst he was at the top of his career, he decided to finish 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 of higher-education had been disrupted in 1980, during the period of military takeover. His attempts to earn 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 Geek 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 many 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.



Kemal Sunal died on July 3, 2000 at an age of 55 years. He died of a heart attack just minutes before his plane took off. He was going to Trabzon to appear in the film Balalayka.


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Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Cüneyt Arkın
Golden Orange Award
for Best Actor

for Kapıcılar Kralı
Succeeded by
Tarık Akan
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