July 15, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Turkel was born in Brooklyn, New York. When he was sixteen years old he joined the United States Army and served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He currently lives in southern California, and has been involved in writing screenplays.
His most famous roles are Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the eccentric God-figure in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982), and Lloyd, the ghostly bartender in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). He has the distinction of being one of only two actors (the other being Philip Stone) to work with Kubrick as a credited character three times: in The Killing (1956, as "Tiny"), in Paths of Glory (1957, as the doomed Private Arnaud), and in The Shining.
His first film appearance was 1948's City Across the River. Other film appearances include Bert I. Gordon's The Boy and the Pirates (1960) as Abu the Genie and Tormented (both 1960); The Sand Pebbles (1966) as Bronson; The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) as Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik; and the 1988 horror feature The Dark Side of the Moon.
On November 13, 1956, Turkel appeared on the ABC/Desilu western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp as Jim Rellance, a young Texas cowhand who is infatuated with Dora Hand, the dance hall singer in Dodge City, Kansas, played by actress Margaret Hayes. Rellance, actually an historical person, James "Spike" Kenedy, clashes with Dora's older suitor, Mayor James H. "Dog" Kelley, played by Paul Brinegar in the episode entitled "So Long, Dora, So Long". Rellance sets out to kill Kelley but instead shoots Dora to death in a cabin where Rellance believed Kelley, rather than Dora, to be sleeping. Hugh O'Brian stars in the series title role as Marshal Wyatt Earp.
Turkel's other television appearances include Sky King (in the 1957 episode "Mystery Horse"), Frontier Doctor, U.S. Marshal, The Asphalt Jungle, Mackenzie's Raiders, Kojak, Tales from the Darkside, and Miami Vice (in the episode "Indian Wars"). He played the creepy janitor in the season 5 episode, "And Then There was Shawn" of Boy Meets World.
He stated in a 2014 interview that Paths of Glory is his favorite film of all the ones he has starred in.
- The Naked Street (1955)
- The Killing (1956)
- Paths of Glory (1957)
- The Bonnie Parker Story (1958)
- Verboten! (1959)
- Portrait of a Mobster (1961)
- King Rat (1965)
- The Sand Pebbles (1966)
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
- The Devil's 8 (1969)
- Five Savage Men (1970)
- The Hindenburg (1975)
- The Shining (1980)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- "A One on One Chat with Joe Turkel, Blade Runner's Dr. Eldon Tyrell". Blade Zone: The Online Blade Runner Fan Club.
- "Occupy Seattle_Joseph Turkel". Retrieved 4 February 2014.