Stage actress and director (b. 1929, İstanbul - d. 31 December 2018, Istanbul). Her mother was the first Turkish prima donna (operetta artist) Suzan Lütfullah Sururi, and her father, Lütfullah Sururi, was one of the first founders of operetta in Turkey. Her uncles are Yusuf Celâl and Ali Sururi, who were the first operetta actors and playwrights. Also, she is the niece of the first Turkish woman appeared on the stage, Mevdude Refik Hanım. Real surname of the Sururi family is Eruluç. The family gets its name from Sururi Ali Pasha.
Her profession seems to be determined when Gülriz Sururi got on the stage in her mother’s belly and when she was born into a family of players. She continued her education in the field of theatre and started having acting successes at a young age. At Muhsin Ertuğrul’s request, she appeared on the stage in Istanbul Municipal Theatre when she was 12. Muhsin Ertuğrul found her talented and chose her to attend the Conservatory as a student. She took theatre, singing and ballet lessons at the Conservatory from important teachers of that period. She had to earn her living at a young age. Before graduating from the Conservatory, she started playing leading roles in some special societies. She became a professional actress in 1943 by acting in plays of “The Frogs” by Aristophanes and “Ondine” by Jean Giraudoux in Istanbul Şehir Tiyatrosu (T.N. Istanbul City Theatre). At the same time, she played bit parts in the touring plays of the society, which her uncles and father founded; and served as an apprentice of the great masters.
In the ensuing years, she played in Muammer Karaca and Dormen theatres (1960). In 1961, she started playing in Dormen Theatre with the play “Ben Bir Fotoğraf Makinesiyim”. She won the İlhan İskender Award for best actress for her role in “Sokak Kızı İrma”, which was staged in Dormen Theatre. After marrying stage actor Engin Cezzar, she founded Gülriz Sururi-Engin Cezzar Theatre in 1962.
She also continued her success after founding her own theatre. Once again in year 1966, she won Best Actress Award for her role in “Teneke”. In the same year, she was chosen by Turkish Women’s Union as the “Woman of the Year”. In 1971, she won the Best Actress Award third time for her role in “Hint Kumaşı”. In 1979-80 theatre season, she, with Mehmet Akan, compiled plays of the society, which were performed until then, in a collection named “Uzun İnce Bir Yol” and played in this collection. She received the Avni Dilligil Theatre Award in 1982-83 theatre season for Best Actress for her role of Edith Piaf in the musical “Kaldırım Serçesi”, the Altan Artemis Award from Izmir Journalists Association, and the Superstar Theater Actor Award in 1983 from Milliyet Newspaper.
With her soft acting, Gülriz Sururi has performed many successful characters in dramas as well as in comedies and musicals. She also contributed to Turkish theatre as a director other than acting. She drew attention by her books as much as she drew attention in the theatre. She put down her childhood, youth, her adventure of starting acting, her disappointments, the loves she lived through, the marriages she passed through (she married again after divorcing Engin Cezzar), her life crossing with performers, directors, writers and many other artists, on paper in a manner worthy of literature masters in her first memoir book “Kıldan İnce Kılıçtan Keskince”. She told the post-1980 period in her second book “Bir An Gelir”. She started her book with her role in “Kaldırım Serçesi” as “Edith Piaf”, in which she made a name for herself with her unforgettable acting and singing. She fluently told how this play was found, translated, produced and played, and she took the reader into the world of theatre. In the same book, she put into words that “Kabare”, “Halide” (Halide Edip Adıvar), “Keşanlı Ali Destanı” and “Kaldırım Serçesi” were made as a TV series, her first role as “Sokak Kızı İrma”, which she played in again after years, that Haldun Dormen presented this play third time, and that she bid farewell to theatre with her last play “Söyleyeceklerim Var”, which she wrote, directed and played.
Gülriz Sururi produced and
hosted the first unforgettable cooking talk show “A
She gave acting lessons at Marmara University, Faculty of Fine Arts for a while. She also made an album named Müzik Hallerim, consisting of the songs she sang in musical plays. Kaldırım Serçesi, Keşanlı Ali Destanı, Sokak Kızı İrma and Kabare are the primary plays that she performed in. Besides, she directed the musicals Kısmet, Fosforlu Cevriye, and the plays Biz Sıfırdan Başladık and Koçinalar Kumpanyası. She wrote three cookbooks other than memoir, novel and story.
Gülriz Sururi won the 1961 İlhan İskender Award for Best Actress, was awarded for the Best Actress again in 1966, was chosen as the Woman of the Year by Turkish Women’s Union, was awarded for Best Actress in 1971, won Avni Dilligil Award in 1982-83 season for Best Actress. She was deemed worthy of Altan Artemis Award in 1983 by Izmir Journalists Association, the Superstar Theater Actor Award in 1983 by the Milliyet Newspaper, and State Artist title in 1998 by Ministry of Culture. At the 16th Istanbul Theatre Festival, she, together with her husband Engin Cezzar, received the Honor Award and assumed the title of “State Artist” in 1998, which was conferred by Ministry of Culture.
BOOKS: Kıldan İnce Kılıçtan Keskince (memoir, 1978), Bir An Gelir (memoir, 2003), Girmediğim Sokaklarda (story, 2003), Biz Kadınlar (newspaper articles, 2003), Seni Seviyorum (novel, 2005).
REFERENCE: Mustafa N. Özön - Baha Dürder / Türk Tiyatrosu Ansiklopedisi (1967), Niyazi Akı / Çağdaş Türk Tiyatrosuna Toplu Bakış / 1923-1967 (1968), Metin And / Cumhuriyet Dönemi Türk Tiyatrosu (1983), Büyük Larousse (1986), Elif Korap / Gülriz Sururi İddia Ediyor: Sahneye Çıkan İlk Türk Kadını Teyzemdi (Milliyet, 3 Ocak 2003), Hakan Tok / Kömürlük Penceresi Gözlü Güçük Hanfendi (3 Ocak 2003), İhsan Işık / Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Sanatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 5, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013), Son dakika Gülriz Sururi hayatını kaybetti (hürriyet.com.tr, 01.01.2019), "Cenazelere sosyalleşmek için geliyorlar" demişti (hürriyet.com.tr, 01.01.2019), Gülriz Sururi (tiyatrolar.com.tr, 01.01.2019), Gülriz Sururi (sinematurk.com, 01.01.2019).