Stage actor, improvisational theatre artist and manager (B.1886, Şehzadebaşı /D. Istanbul – April 26th, 1943, Istanbul). He was referred as Comic Naşit Efendi and Komik-i Şehir (Great Comedian), as well. He was the son of Miralay (colonel) Ahmet Bey. He was the father of the actress Adile Naşit and actor Selim Naşit Özcan, and the grandfather of Naşit Özcan. He was given the last name of Özcan after the Surname Law. He had his primary education at Kuyucu Muratpaşa Primary School; after he had studied at Beyazıt Rüştiyesi (Ottoman Junior High School) he entered the veterinary school in Eyüp. As he skipped school again and again in order to go to the theatre, he was recruited as a private soldier in Muzıka-i Humayun (Palace Orchestra, 1900). Here, he got lessons from the Puppeteer Halim Bey and Violinist Zeki Bey. In the exam, he passed performing twelve different imitations and was accepted as an actor for the farce group of palace. His first improvisation teacher was Abdi Efendi.
The acting career of Naşit Özcan started beside Abdürrezzak Efendi. He worked with such companies as the farce company of Kavuklu Hamdi and Küçük İsmail, the improvisation company of Kel Hasan, Mınakyan Company. He performed eulogy, puppet, and Karagöz shows. After he worked with several companies, he joined the eulogy branch of Kavuklu Hamdi and the Benliyan Operetta Company. He was sent to France by the court. When he came back, he joined Bertrand’s pantomime company that gave performances in the palace. Then, he joined the Italian Operetta Company in the court. Naşit Özcan, who also worked in the drama company Güllü Agop established in the palace, started giving performances in front of the public after the announcement of the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire (1908). After the year 1910, starting to work independently, he established companies. He performed shows in Direklerarası, and with Fevziye Theatre in Eyüp Sultan. After the year 1913, with Şehzadebaşı Şark Theatre, he got on the stage in Millet Theatre. He performed all the farce characters successfully; he also performed in the melodramas of the Mınakyan Company. For the modern works, instead of his own costumes, he used the costumes that the roles required.
Naşit Özcan continued working in the companies that he established during the period of the republic. He created his own repertoire. He succeeded not only in imitating the dialects of the various peoples who were living under the Ottoman Empire, but also in creating different characteristics. He knew how to take poll very well. His fame exceeded the borders of Istanbul. In eulogy, he used to play the role of Kavuklu. He also had parts in the plays adapted from the foreign plays. He also showed the same success in his own plays which depicted the native people’s characteristics in a straight way. In addition to his success in the cinema, eulogy, and melodramas, he actually gained his reputation in the improvisational theatre where he created new characters. He made İbiş character of the improvisational plays get a new personality. Aşçıbaşı Tosun Ağa, Leblebici Horhor, Hoşkadem Kalfa, Surpik Dudu were the most important characters which Naşit Özcan created and played successfully. Some of the plays in which he performed are: “Beyimin Tiyatro Merakı”, “Yahudi Doktorun Metresi”, “İstanbul Çapkını”, “Çifte Köy Düğünü”.
Naşit Özcan, remembered as the man who could made even Sultan Abdülhamid II laugh, fell in love with Amelya Hanım when he was married, he then divorced and got married to Amelya Hanım, who changed her name as Emel later. In this marriage, Adile Naşit and Selim Naşit Özcan were born. One of the apprentices of Naşit Özcan was the famous comedian İsmail Dümbüllü. He made his jubilee in 1938. He did not get on the stage after 1940. He got on the stage for 38 years approximately. Although he was the actor who earned most in Turkey, he did not save money. His main features of profession were turning the plays that had music into operettas, turning the written works into improvisations.
Known as an actor and improviser, Naşit Bey, in an interview in the “Tan” newspaper, under the date of January 14th, 1937, said that he actually liked the cinema most and went on to say: “…I enjoy performing on the stage in front of people, but making movie is easier and it has much effect on the public…” He performed in four movies, in “Bir Millet Uyanıyor”, he played the role of a soldier, in “İstanbul Sokaklarında”, he played the role of a beggar. He also appeared in two comedies titled as “Naşit Dolandırıcı” and “Düğün Gecesi”. He died on the 26th of April, 1943. He was buried in the Karacaahmet Cemetery.
Adile and Selim Naşit established the Naşit Theatre, in 1961. His son Selim Naşit Özcan (1928–2000), his daughter Adile Naşit (1930-1987), and his grandson Naşit Özcan (B.1957) attracted the attention of the theatre audience.
REFERENCE: İbrahim Alaeddin Gövsa / Türk Meşhurları (1946), Mustafa N. Özön - Baha Dürder / Türk Tiyatrosu Ansiklopedisi (1967), Metin And / Meşrutiyet Döneminde Türk Tiyatrosu 1908-1923 (1971) - Geleneksel Türk Tiyatrosu, Köylü ve Halk Tiyatrosu Gelenekleri (1985), Prof. Özdemir Nutku / Efdal Seninçli / Benden Sonra Tufan Olmasın (Muhsin Ertuğrul’un anıları, 1989), Metin And / Geleneksel Türk Tiyatrosu (1985), İsmail Biret / Komik-i Şehir Naşit Bey ve Çocukları (Anı, 2005), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Sanatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 5, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013).