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If you’re a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and/or Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, then Joe Turkel should look familiar to you. The man played key roles in both movies, which have been cemented many times over as cinematic classics. Sadly, it’s been revealed that Turkel has died at the age of 94.
Variety confirmed with a representative that Joe Turkel passed away at the St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California on Monday, a little over two weeks shy of hitting his 95th birthday. It was also shared that before dying, the actor completed a memoir called The Misery of Success, which is intended to be published later this year. Turkel is survived by his two sons, two daughter-in-laws and his brother David.
Born on July 15, 1927, following his service in World War II, Joe Turkel made his film debut in 1949’s City Across the River, a noir feature starring Stephen McNally and Thelma Ritter. Turkel’s other early acting jobs included Angels in Disguise, Inside Detroit and The Bonnie Parker Story. He also appeared on numerous TV shows, including The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Bonanza (where he made three different appearances), The Untouchables, Adam-12 and The Andy Griffith Show.
As already mentioned though, the classic horror movie The Shining and popular sci-fi movie Blade Runner stand out as Joe Turkel’s most well-known cinematic appearances. In The Shining, Turkel played Lloyd, the ghostly bartender (a role Kunal Nayyar might be good for someday) who chatted with Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance during his stay at the Overlook Hotel. It’s worth noting that Turkel is one of only two actors (the other being Phillip Stone) to make three credited appearances in Kubrick’s filmography. They first professionally crossed paths on 1956’s The Killing, and then teamed up again for 1957’s Paths of Glory, which Turkel once said was his favorite movie he performed in.
Then in 1982, Joe Turkel starred in Blade Runner as Dr. Eldon Tyrell, head of the Tyrell Corporation and creator of the replicants. Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard met Tyrell early on in the movie, where he witnessed the Voight-Kampff test being administered. Ironically, Tyrell met his demise at the hands of one of his creations, with Rutger Hauer’s Roy killing the man after he learned that Tyrell would not be able to extend his lifespan. Both Blade Runner and The Shining can be streamed with an HBO Max subscription.
Other notable credits of Joe Turkel’s worth mentioning include S.W.A.T., Kojak, Fantasy Island, Miami Vice and Tales from the Darkside. He made his final film appearance in 1990’s The Dark Side of the Moon, a direct-to-video feature where he played the role of Paxton Warner. Turkel’s final credit overall was vocally reprising Eldon Tyrell for the 1997 Blade Runner video game.
We here at CinemaBlend express our condolences to Joe Turkel’s family and friends during this difficult time.