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HomeAwardsBobak Kalhor’s A Dying King The Shah of Iran

Bobak Kalhor’s A Dying King The Shah of Iran


A Dying King is the story of how the Shah of Iran mysteriously left the country for a 19 month exile, privately seeking treatment for Cancer at hospitals around the world. He traveled from Egypt to Morocco, Bahamas, Mexico, the U.S, then Panama and back again to Egypt where he died at the age of 60. His death had profound consequences for the future of the Middle East and the world. His disappearance led to the Iranian Revolution, the 1979 Hostage Crisis and led to permanent adversarial relations with the U.S.

Kalhor was a popular DJ in Los Angeles at 670 AM KIRN. He did mostly political programs and later became the General Manager of the station. It was during this time that he became interested in the book The Shah’s Spleen by Leon Morgenstern, MD then contacted him and had an interesting conversation. Morgenstern put Kalhor in touch with many of the other doctors he would later speak to. Intrigued, Kalhor conducted a four-hour interview with Morgenstern, not knowing in advance how he would use the footage. “This is self funded. All my retirement money was spent on this. It took 7 years. I wasn’t planning on making a documentary. I just wanted to know the story.”

In addition to Morgenstern, Kalhor interviewed: Gaspar Garcia De Parades, MD, Morton Coleman, MD, Lyn Boyd Judson, PHD, Iraj Shaham, MD, Jorge Cervantes, MD, Former Ambassador Amir Aslan Afshar, Former Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi among others. His mission was to reconstruct events by interviewing many of the doctors who cared for the Shah during his final days. “This is a medical story. The most amazing thing is because he was a king, he would have been seen by top professionals, if his illness was not secret. He would have gotten better treatment as an average Joe.” The Shah died of a Splenectomy, which is a routine procedure that was botched and led to his death. “In the end, his medical decisions were his choice. He had all yes men around him. He was afraid of what people would think.”

Kalhor assembled a loyal team to help him facilitate his vision. His DP, Amir Motlagh was also interested in the subject matter and traveled with him to various locations to capture the story. Editor, Denis Opalchenski pieced together the rough cut over a year, then Kalhor enlisted the help of Shahin Shafaei. “Shahin fell in love with it – he thought it was a great story,” added Kalhor.

Kalhor stated, “I didn’t make this with the idea of making a lot of money. This story explains where we are at today. Political Islam started in Iran. It’s an important starting point to modern history.”

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