Boris Karloff is famous for his role as The Mummy Imhotep but throughout the movie, he is not wrapped up in bandages. Instead, he walks around dressed as a regular person under the name Ardath Bey. In 1999’s The Mummy and its 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns, Oded Fehr portrayed Ardeth Bay but he wasn’t the mummy. He was a separate character altogether. Join us in taking a closer look at the two incarnations of this character.
In 1932’s The Mummy, Ardath Bey is the form taken by the awakened mummy. He retains all of his powers and uses them to control Zita Johann‘s character Helen Grosvenor, who in a past life was Princess Ankh-es-en-Amon. Bey is imposing, scary and even malicious as he looks through his pool to spy on Helen. He almost succeeds in his plan when she succumbs to his control. This Ardath Bey was a villain but that would change when the franchise was re-booted in 1999.
Universal Studios’ new incarnation of The Mummy starred Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, Rachel Weisz as Evelyn “Evy” Carnahan and Arnold Vasloo as Imhotep. Ardeth Bay is no longer Imhotep’s human form, but a new character who watches over Imhotep’s burial site at Hamunaptra with the rest of the Medjai. He becomes an ally to Rick and Evy as they try to stop Imhotep.
He is brought back in the second movie to help Rick and Evy find their son Alex. The difference from the first movie is he’s actively involved with them in London. He is not seen with the Medjai until they return to Egypt. Bay is Rick’s and Evy’s guide through the Ahm Shere oasis and leads the Medjai into battle against the armies of Anubis while Rick tries to stop both Imhotep and the Scorpion King.
Whether his name is spelled Ardath Bey or Ardeth Bay, the character is vital to the story of The Mummy. In 1932 he was a reincarnated Imhotep and in 1999 and 2001, he helped defeat Imhotep. I personally like both incarnations of the character. Boris Karloff is Boris Karloff and The Mummy (1932) will forever be a classic. Oded Fehr did an excellent job in The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001) and was a favorite character of mine from those movies even more than Rick and Imhotep. Now that we know The Mummy will rise again in 2017, will Ardeth Bay rise again as well?
(Joe Grodensky – @JoeGrodensky)