Ann Turkel has one of the most interesting and diverse careers in the entertainment industry. A former international Vogue cover girl who stands six feet tall, Ann is recognized around the world for her successes in motion pictures, television, modeling, and business. Born and raised in
Manhattan, Ann always had a gift for entertaining. She began dance lessons at the age of five and continued her artistic studies throughout college. She credits her grandmother for encouraging her artistic activities. Ann studied acting, dance, and voice throughout her formative years. By the time she reached sixteen, Ann had studied at the Musical Theatre Academy and the Neighborhood Playhouse with some of the most prominent acting coaches in the city, including Sandy Meisner and Philip Burton.
At age sixteen, Ann began singing with a rock and roll band with some friends from high school and she also performed a season of summer stock theatre at the Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in such plays as “The Pajama Game” and “West Side Story.” It was while performing with her band at a fashion show that Ann was discovered by Gloria Schiff, an editor at Vogue Magazine. Within a week, Editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland had Ann shooting her first Vogue cover with photographer Richard Avedon. Subsequently, Ann became one of the most sought after models in the country, gracing the covers of the top fashion magazines, including Vogue, Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan, among several others. After two years, Ann hit the international markets modeling successfully in Europe and Japan as the face for such cosmetic giants as Max Factor, Revlon, Chanel, and the Touch of Class line for Faberge.
At the age of 19, she met a prominent Hollywood agent who asked her to audition for a movie. A week later, she left her successful career in modeling to star in her first motion picture. The film, “99 & 44/100% Dead”, was a black comedy directed by John Frankenheimer for Twentieth Century Fox and it co-starred actor Richard Harris. Not only did Ann receive a Golden Globe nomination for her performance, she also met, fell in love with, and married her co-star. A succession of films followed: the first three in which she starred with her husband: “Cassandra Crossing”, “Golden Rendezvous”, and “The Ravagers” for Columbia Pictures. She later starred with Jack Palance and Rod Steiger in “Portrait of a Human” and was also in the controversial feature “Humanoids From The Deep” with Doug McClure and the late Vic Morrow which became the #2 top grossing movie of the summer just after “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”. Ann also starred in the award-winning mini-series “Samson and Delilah” for NBC.
During the time that Ann was married to her husband Richard, he became knighted and was deemed Sir Richard Harris. Ann was also knighted, becoming Dame Ann Kathryn Turkel Harris, but she chose never to use her title.
Ann’s life took another turn when she and Harris divorced in 1982. She began to focus on television and racked up an impressive and diverse body of work including starring in the television movie “Chance of a Lifetime” with Leslie Nielsen and Betty White for CBS, the Tony and Ridley Scott anthology series “The Hunger” for Showtime, and several television series pilots, including Paramount’s “Modesty Blaise” and Aaron Spelling’s “Hollywood Beat” for ABC, among others. Ann has also guest-starred in more than a dozen episodic series and starred in numerous feature films such as Robert Altman’s “Ready to Wear”, the video hit “The Fear”, the highly acclaimed “Touch Me”, and the upcoming “Murder Among Friends”. Ann also refocused her goals and returned to her musical aspirations. She enjoys the physical aspects involved in acting and often does her own stunts, including intricate sword work which she showcased in a guest appearance on “Chivalry”, the highest rated episode of the “Highlander” series. In addition to being one of the highest rated, this episode set a record for garnering the most e-mail received regarding an episode. All the fans fell in love with Ann’s character which took her from the 1500’s to present day and featured her wide range and acting prowess.
While vacationing along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Ann ended her trip in Monte Carlo where she went to a club frequented by Prince Albert. While in the club she caught the eye of Prince Albert who asked his friend to introduce her to him. That evening the Prince asked Ann to allow him to escort her to the Red Cross Ball, Princess Grace’s favorite charity. Ann flew back a month a later to attend the ball.
In addition to her work onscreen, Ann is a published photographer whose first photo sold to and was published in “Time” magazine. She is currently working on a line of photographic/hand-painted greeting cards and a book of photographs titled “My Head’s In The Clouds”. And she is also currently working with a biographer for a movie that she is producing called “Walkiria’s War.” Ann has had a consuming love of music from an early age, and her musical tastes range from Rachmaninoff to jazz. During the late ‘90s, Ann practically locked herself in a recording studio with rock producer Bill Wray where they produced contemporary rock and roll with the intent of releasing an album. Ann’s voice can best be described as raspy. Ann also has two singles that were quite popular in Europe.
Not content to simply perform, Ann has made her mark in the business world as well. She launched a very successful and much publicized workout company called “Now or Never”: this gym on wheels was a company created by Ann and her business partner, Hans Buhringer. This UPS sized truck contained a gym built inside that went to the homes of clients such as Rod Stewart and catered mainly to the Beverly Hills area. It was the forerunner in the field of personal training. Again, Ann with her amazing promotional skills got it featured on all the national talk shows and made national press: 2 pages in People magazine, 6 pages in Us magazine, and the front page of the business section of the Washington Post.
In addition to “Now or Never”, Ann also created and promoted the famous “Unsuit”: the bathing suit you can tan through. The company was the brainchild of Ann and her partner Hans. Due to massive promotion by Ann, every national and local talk show, every magazine including Time and Newsweek and the international press covered it. Within 18 months of starting the company the Unsuit made the front page of the Wall Street Journal for being the single largest selling item in the history of the garment industry.
Her latest endeavor, the creation of her new book of photographs dedicated to raising funds and awareness to the plight of the men and women in our armed services. Ann also designed the logo for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund beating out Nike and Adidas.
Ann’s brother Robert passed away on September 24, 2001 by the same cancer that took the life of Farrah Fawcett. Ann and her brother were very close. Ann’s sister Jane, though living on the other side of the country, is her closest friend. One year later, Ann lost Richard, also to cancer. She was in London holding his hand as they turned off life support. With both Richard and her brother gone, Ann slipped into a deep depression for two years.
When not working on a project, Ann can be found in the Southern California home that she designed and decorated. Ann also loves to garden which often makes her feel like an artist who turns a blank canvas into something magical. In her free time, Ann loves to read, particularly the works of George Sand and the Brontes, as well as anything historical. Her leisure time is also spent listening to music and playing with her dog Tess.
Over the last few years, Ann has also written a screenplay, a movie for television, a half-hour sitcom, and a reality drama show. An avid sportswoman, Ann enjoys and excels in all sports. She enjoys competing in celebrity charity sporting events from tennis, track and field, softball, and skating, to beach volleyball and skiing. Ann loves the tranquility and beauty of the outdoors, which accounts for her love of photography and painting. She has a passion for cooking but only for friends, never for herself. An avid spokesperson for animal rights and children’s causes, now her greatest passion is helping the men and women who serve this country, raising money and resources for our veterans through many veteran charities. Ann is always eager to volunteer her time to promote awareness of these issues. Her life can be described as very full. She believes in going to the fullest limit of her abilities, whether it be in the entertainment or business field. Ann Turkel is truly is a Renaissance woman.