Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Biography

(The Last Shah of Iran Who Ruled from 1941 to 1979)

Birthday: October 26, 1919 (Scorpio)

Born In: Tehran, Iran

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was the last Shah of Iran who reigned from 1941 to 1979 and introduced many reforms to foster economic developments in Iran. One of the 11 children of his father, he was the eldest son among his siblings and was proclaimed the crown prince when his father established the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran. During the World War II, he was crowned as the Shah of Iran, at the age of 20, amidst international political commotion. During his reign, he maintained a pro-Western foreign policy and fostered economic development in Iran. He instituted a ‘White Revolution’ to modernize the country and redistributed extensive land holdings from the wealthiest, dividing them among four million small-holder farmers. He also supported new schools and adult literacy programs in small villages, and gave women the right to vote. He sponsored new manufacturing plants and universities in the cities. Corruption in the government and political turmoil resulted in a revolution which forced him to go into exile and was followed by the declaration of an Islamic republic in Iran. He assumed power during the turmoil of World War II, and his rule ended in similarly tumultuous circumstances. He served as the last Shah of Iran ending 2,500 years of monarchy.
Quick Facts

Nick Name: The Emperor of Oil

Also Known As: Mohammad Reza Shah

Died At Age: 60


Spouse/Ex-: Farah Diba, Fawzia Fuad of Egypt, Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari

father: Rezā Shāh

mother: Tadj ol-Molouk

siblings: Abdul Reza Pahlavi, Ahmad Reza Pahlavi, Ali Reza Pahlavi, Ashraf Pahlavi, Fatimeh Pahlavi, Gholam Reza Pahlavi, Hamdamsaltaneh Pahlavi, Hamid Reza Pahlavi, Mahmud Reza Pahlavi, Shams Pahlavi

children: Ali-Reza Pahlavi, Farahnaz Pahlavi, Leila Pahlavi, Reza Pahlavi, Shahnaz Pahlavi

Emperors & Kings Iranian Men

Died on: July 27, 1980

place of death: Cairo, Egypt

Notable Alumni: Institut Le Rosey

Cause of Death: Lymphoma

City: Tehran, Iran (islamic Republic Of)

Founder/Co-Founder: SAVAK, Rastakhiz Party

More Facts

education: Institut Le Rosey

Childhood & Early Life
He, along with his twin sister, Ashraf, was born on October 26, 1919, to Reza Pahlavi and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk. He was the third child and the eldest son of the father’s eleven children from four wives.
In 1925, when he was five years old, his father overthrew the Qajar Dynasty with British assistance, founded the Pahlavi Dynasty, and became the Shah of Iran. Upon his father’s coronation in April 1926, he was proclaimed crown prince.
In 1931, he went to the ‘Institut Le Rosey’ in Switzerland becoming the first Iranian heir apparent to study overseas. In 1936, he graduated from a high school in Iran and spent the following two years at the military academy in Tehran.
Continue Reading Below
In the fall of 1941, his father was forced to abdicate the throne by the British and Russian forces who had occupied the country after a short struggle and he was crowned as the new Shah of Iran.
When World War II ended in 1945, the US and Britain withdrew from their spheres, but the Soviets refused to leave. With considerable American help, his government was able to pressurize the Soviet into withdrawing from northern Iran.
Later, with assistance from the United States, he started the ‘White Revolution’ in which he nationalized forests and water, established profit-sharing plans for the workers, emancipated women, and established literacy, sanitation, and development corps.
Gradually, he grew increasingly autocratic and took the extreme measure of outlawing all political parties except for his own favored Rastakhiz Party, thus abolishing the multi-party system. Displeased with his rule, his opponents soon began to hold strikes and street rallies to which he responded by deploying the army on the streets of Tehran.
On September 8, 1978, his troops opened fire on a demonstration by religious dissidents, killing many people. This event, known as ‘Black Friday’ turned out to be the beginning of the end for him as a ruler.
In 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei led a revolution forcing him and his family into exile. His family traveled to Morocco, the Bahamas, and Mexico within the first six months of exile. Later, he became ill and was granted permission to receive medical treatment in the United States where he spent some time and then went to Egypt.
Major Works
He introduced a national development program called the ‘White Revolution’ that included construction of an expanded road, rail, and air network, the encouragement and support to industrial growth, and land reforms.
He also established literacy and health corps for the isolated rural population. In the 1960-70s, he sought to develop a more independent foreign policy and established working relationships with the Soviet Union and eastern European nations.
Awards & Achievements
In 1957, he was decorated with the ‘Grand Collar of the Order of the Yoke and Arrows of Spain’. The same year, he received the ‘Grand Cross w/ Collar of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy’.
In 1959, he was knighted with the ‘Order of the Elephant of Denmark’. The same year, he also got decorated with the ‘Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion’.
In 1960, he received the ‘Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer of Greece’ and the ‘Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold of Belgium’.
In 1965, he was decorated with the ‘Grand Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil’.
In 1966, he was conferred with the ‘Order of the Flag with Diamonds’ by Hungary and the ‘Grand Cordon of the Grand Star of Yugoslavia’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1939, he married Dilawar Princess Fawzia of Egypt, daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt. They had one child together, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi, but the couple later got divorced.
In 1951, Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, a half-German half-Iranian woman, became his second wife. However, when it became apparent that even with help from medical doctors she could not bear children, he divorced her.
Then he married Farah Diba and they were blessed with four children; two sons, Prince Reza Pahlavi and Prince Ali-Reza Pahlavi, and two daughters, Princess Farahnaz Pahlavi and Princess Leila Pahlavi .
In March 1980, he underwent treatment in Cairo for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. He died on July 27, 1980 at the age of 60, and was buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo.

See the events in life of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Rezā Shāh Biography
Rezā Shāh
Cyrus the Great Biography
Cyrus the Great
Nader Shah Biography
Nader Shah
Xerxes I Biography
Xerxes I
Khalid of Saudi Arabia Biography
Khalid of Saudi Arabia
(Saudi Arabian)