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Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody

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Sayed Mahmoody

Betty Mahmoody

Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody smiling and wearing eyeglasses.

August 23, 2009 (aged 69–70) Tehran, Iran

1939 (age 69-70), Shushtar, Iranian Empire

Mahtob Mahmoody, Betty Mahmoody, Alfred Molina

Without My Daughter (Part 4 of 6)

Sayed Bozorg "Moody" Mahmoody, PhD (Persian: دكتر سيد بزرگ محمودى c. 1939 - August 23, 2009) was an Iranian anesthesiologist known for taking his American wife Betty and their daughter Mahtob to his native country of Iran and allegedly keeping them hostage there for a period of eighteen months during the mid-1980s.


Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody wearing eyeglasses and a suit while holding a picture frame of his daughter.

Early life

On the left, Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody wearing eyeglasses and brown striped long sleeves while pointing to a picture frame of his daughter. On the right, a poster of "Not Without My Daughter", a 1991 American drama film starring Sally Field as Betty Mahmoody, Alfred Molina as Sayyed Bozorg "Moody" Mahmoody, and Sheila Rosenthal as Mahtob Mahmoody.

Mahmoody was born to a prominent family in Shustar, Iran and was educated in London and the United States.

Mahmoody left Iran at the age of 18 to study English in London. He then moved to the United States, where he became a university math professor and an engineer. He worked for NASA during the 1960s, then went to medical school and became an anaesthesiologist.

Marriage and fatherhood

Mahmoody met Betty in 1974. They dated for three years and Betty referred to him by the nickname, "Moody". After officially becoming a licensed anesthesiologist based in the U.S., Moody married Betty in Houston in 1977. Moody claimed Betty proposed to him, converted to Islam and took a lively interest in Persian culture. They resided in Texas. "He was so affectionate and considerate. He would send me flowers, books, music boxes, with beautiful inscriptions and there didn`t even have to be a reason," Betty said of her ex-husband.

Their daughter, Mahtob, which means "Moonlight" in Persian, was born in 1979. It was Moody who named her that, after he looked at a full moon. The Mahmoodys later moved to Michigan.

Family's tenure in Iran

With some assistance from one of his nephews, Moody was alleged to have taken his wife and daughter to his native nation on August 4, 1984. Moody was able to convince his wife that their daughter deserved a visit "on holiday" for two weeks in Iran. As their stay in Iran for the period he is claimed to have promised ended, Moody then told her they would not be returning to the U.S.

Betty once quoted her husband in her 1987 book, Not Without My Daughter, telling her, "If you try to leave this house again, I will kill you!"

Life since estrangement

In 1989, Betty officially divorced Moody.

According to Betty, "The night before September 11, 2001, I was informed that (Moody) had a green card and was not only back in the U.S., but he was just a few blocks away from my house in Michigan. After he was eventually placed on a terrorist list, he was never allowed back to the U.S."

A 2002 documentary was made by Alexis Kouros and Kari Tervo titled Without My Daughter. The documentary depicted Moody defending his actions and telling the story through his perspective. It also depicted his attempts to contact Mahtob. Mahmoody also authored a book called Lost Without My Daughter in which he counterattacks Betty's claims against him.

Betty said she still has some contact with some of Moody's family; these members were sympathetic to her plight and they now live in Australia.

Media portrayal

Moody was portrayed by Alfred Molina in the 1991 film, Not Without My Daughter, adapted from Betty's book of the same name. Reacting to the film and Molina's portrayal of him, Moody said, "I asked, is this supposed to be me? As you can see, I am short, bald on top, and I wear glasses: no resemblance at all, which tells a great deal about how realistic the whole movie is." The film itself was a critical and commercial failure, and Molina was once assaulted by a man for his performance in the film.


Mahmoody died in Tehran on August 23, 2009. The cause of death was determined as a result of kidney problem.


Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody Wikipedia