Nejla Ateş

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Nejla Ates
Born Naciye Batır[1]
RomaniaConstanța, Romania
Died 2005
TurkeyIstanbul, Turkey
Years active 1952–1966

Nejla Ateş (March 7, 1932 - died in Istanbul in 2005) was a Turkish belly dancer and actress, born in Constanța, Romania. Born as Naciye Batır, she achieved fame under the stage name Nejla Ateş in Turkey and as Nejla Ates in the United States. She was also known as Turkish Delight.[2] Notably, she appeared in the films King Richard and the Crusaders and Son of Sinbad[3] and Fanny, a Broadway musical.[4][5]

Of Crimean Tatar origin, Ateş, whose surname means "fire" in Turkish, was a well-known nightclub girl who had a series of scandalous and highly publicized romances with famous and powerful men, including oil heir Sheppard William King III, actor George Sanders,[6] singer Billy Daniels, bodybuilder Gerrard Brix, and actor Gary Crosby . She attracted royal admirers Saudi-Arabian Prince Faisal Hegelan and Prince Aly Khan.

A naked statue of her was erected in Central Park in November 1954.[7]

Ates had a number of scandal sheet-moments, including a running feud with Burlesque queen Rose la Rose, who claimed Atjes stole her best belly dancing moves from Rose's act.[8]

Ates, despite her success and beauty, fell into poverty and twice attempted suicide. Her first suicide attempt via an overdose of tranquilizers and asprin followed an argument with her then lover, singer Bobby Colt. Atjes was named as correspondent in his divorce by Colt's wife Hope Diamond. Atjes spoke publicly about her depression thus: "I'm fed up with life... with love... with everything."[9]

Her second suicide attempt with an overdose of barbiturates left her in a temporary coma.

She also suffered a series of injuries, including a slipped disc, apparently related to her dancing. Scandal sheets reported that after she left America to return to Turkey, the once delicate 4'11' tall 98 lb brunette dancer had become a 200 lb blonde. Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen states that she was born in Romania on 7 March 1932 and died in an Istanbul hospital in April 2005.[10]


Further reading[edit]

  • Baysaling, Özer Ates dansi (by her widower) (Turkish)