Joe Turkel, the bartender in ‘The Shining’, dies at 94

Joe Turkel, who played the haunting bartender in Stanley Kubrick’s The shining and the creator of the replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, has passed away. He was 94.

Turkel died Monday at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, his family announced.

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Turkel also appeared in two other Kubrick films: as a gunman in the climactic shootout in the murder (1956) and sent to the firing squad as a soldier in Paths of Glory (1957), which the lanky Brooklyn-born actor called the greatest movie ever. (Only Philip Stone has appeared in no fewer than three Kubrick films.)

Before Bert I. Gordon, Turkel appeared as Abu the Genie and as a mobster respectively in the 1960 releases The Boy and the Pirates and tormented† He also played a prisoner of war in Robert Wise’s The sandstones (1966) and was the real bribe “Greasy Thumb” Guzik in Roger Corman’s The Massacre on St Valentine’s Day (1967).

Kubrick first saw Turkel at work in the B photo man crazy (1953). As the actor recalled on the Kubrick Universe podcast, the filmmaker told him, “the picture was terrible, but I liked you and what you did and so I said I should hire that guy.”

After his small role in the murdercast the meticulous Kubrick Turkel, then 30, as one of three soldiers scapegoated for a failed World War I attack in the classic Kirk Douglas starrer Paths of Glory

His character, the decorated soldier Private Arnaud, is chosen by lot to be sent to his death along with Pvt. Ferol (Timothy Carey) and Cpl. Paris (Ralph Meeker). His spiral into despair and drunkenness leads to a fight; Knocked unconscious, he is absurdly propped up on a stretcher in front of a firing squad.

Halfway through The shining (1980), aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) wanders into the empty Gold Room of The Overlook Hotel and to the bar, where in a state of madness he begs for a glass of beer.

Suddenly, the lounge bartender, Lloyd (Turkel), appears and pours him a bourbon, even though Torrance has no money. “I like you Lloyd, I’ve always liked you,” says Torrance. “You were always the best of them. Best damn bartender from Timbuctoo to Portland, Maine – Portland, Oregon, for that matter.’

When Torrance returns to the room, Lloyd is still behind the bar, but now it’s packed with 1920s revelers.

Joe Turkel as Dr.  Eldon Tyrell in 1982's 'Blade Runner' - Credit: Warner Bros./Photofest

Joe Turkel as Dr. Eldon Tyrell in 1982’s ‘Blade Runner’ – Credit: Warner Bros./Photofest

Warner Bros./Photofest

Turkel speaks a total of 96 words in his two scenes. In 2014, he pointed out that rehearsals lasted six weeks while “Stanley was looking for the perfect shot” and he was on set one day from 9am to 10:30pm. “I went to my dressing room, took my shirt off, my T-shirt off and wrung out [the sweat] from.”

Turkel’s dressing room was next to Nicholson’s and in Scott Edwards’ 2018 book Typical Jackhe remembered seeing an open book about the effects of frostbite on Nicholson’s chest before filming The shining’s last snow streak.

“Look, before the last scene my character freezes and I want to know how it happens. I want to get it…feel…show…as it is,” Nicholson told him.

Thanks to The shiningScott cast him as Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner (1982). “Joe had this kind of waxy makeup or skin quality,” the director says in the DVD commentary for the film, “and Joe was shaved so clean it was almost polished ivory.”

Tyrell, who lives in a giant pyramid, runs a company that makes replicants with a lifespan of four years – “more human than human,” is his company slogan.

Later in the film, while in a heavy white robe and wearing large glasses, Tyrell is visited by his most esteemed and advanced replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who demands an extension of his soon-expiring life.

Tyrell tells him that “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you burned so very, very bright, Roy.”

In one of the most amazing moments of the film, Batty, realizing that his creator cannot fulfill his wish, kisses Tyrell on the lips before crushing his head and eyes with his bare hands.

For the gory effect, tubes were passed behind Turkel’s ears, and as Hauer (on his first day on set) began squeezing his face, makeup artist Marvin G. Westmore pumped fake blood through the tubes. (The crew had made a prosthetic dummy head of Turkel, but it was never used on screen. It would find a home in the office of visual effects maestro Douglas Trumbull.)

From left: Paul Richards, Joe Turkel and Jason Robards in 1967 'The St. Valentine's Day Massacre' - Credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest

From left: Paul Richards, Joe Turkel and Jason Robards in 1967 ‘The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’ – Credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest

20th Century Fox/Photofest

Born on July 15, 1927, Turkel began his film career in the late 1940s, appearing in film noirs including City across the river (1949), The glass wall (1953), Duffy of San Quentin (1954), The human jungle (1954) and The Naked Street (1955); in war movies like Halls of Montezuma and Fixed bayonets!, both from 1951; and in comedies like Down between the sheltered palms (1952) and A minor case of theft (1953).

He played crime cousin Chuck Darrow in The Bonnie Parker Story (1958), the sheriff at Gordon’s Valley of the Giants (1965) and a detective in Wise’s The Hindenburg (1975).

He was featured on television Boston Blackie, Public Defender, The Lone Ranger, The Line-up, Bonanza, The Untouchables, Tales From the Darkside and Miami Vice

His last film appearance came in 1990 in The dark side of the moonand he reprized his role of Tyrell, in voice only, for a 1997 Blade Runner video game.

Just before his death, Turkel completed a memoir entitled The misery of successwhich the family plans to publish this year.

He has lived in Santa Monica since the early 1990s and has been featured in several restaurants and businesses in the city, including Fromin’s Deli, Izzy’s, Bagel Nosh, Marmalade, Rosti, Spumoni, and the Aero Theater.

Survivors include his sons, Craig and Robert; daughters-in-law Annie and Casilde; brother David; and grandchildren Ben and Sarah. Those wishing to attend his funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery are requested to email

In Dennis Fischer’s 2000 book Science fiction movie directors, Turkel recalled asking Kubrick why he called for a 17th shot of an actor just walking down a hallway. “I spent four years preparing this film, I want it damn perfect,” was his reply.

on Paths of GloryTurkel witnessed Adolphe Menjou becoming frustrated with the constant re-shooting of a long and telling scene he had with George Macready.

“Mr. Kubrick, when do you say cut and print?” he recalled Menjou yelling at Kubrick, “I broke into Charlie Chaplin, who gave me my start, but I’ve never been pressured like you’re putting us on now.”

But Kubrick continued with more repechages. While filming, Turkel asked the director which shot he would use in the film. “The very first after the screaming,” Kubrick said. “There was a certain tone to his voice that matched the damn scene that didn’t appear until the first take after the rage.”

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