Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-80) was the Shah of Iran from 1941-1979. He was born in Tehran and sent to school in Switzerland as a child. He completed his education at a Tehran military school. He was married three times, the first time to Dilawar Princess Fawzia, a daughter of Faroq I, king of Egypt.
In 1941, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi ascended to the throne after his father, Reza Shah, was forced to abdicate by Great Britain and Russia, who feared that the elder Shah was too close to the Germans. Pahlavi proved a reliable ally during the war and continued his pro-western policies after the end of the war. He was temporarily driven from power in 1953 by reformers led by the prime minster, Mohammed Mosaddeq. But he was restored to power in a coup orchestrated by British and American intelligence agencies.
As Shah, Mohammad Reza pursued a program of modernization. He granted women the right to vote and he mounted a literacy campaign. But, according to his critics, he spent too much on defense and he built an internal security force (SAVAK) that brutally crushed his political opponents.
In 1979, he was driven from power by Islamic fudamentalists led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. These Shiite Muslims believed that the Shah’s reforms threatened traditional religious values. Moderates, disgusted by the Shah’s opulent lifestyle and the brutality of SAVAK, also joined in ousting the Shah.
Dying of cancer, he was granted temporary medical asylum in the United States before moving to Egypt where he died in 1979.