Shapour Bakhtiar, son of Mohammad Reza (Sardar-e Fateh) and Naz-Baygom was born in 1915 in the Bakhtiari region of Iran. Bakhtiar's maternal grandfather, Najaf-Gholi Samsam ol-Saltaneh, was appointed prime minister twice: in 1912 and 1918.
Bakhtiar's mother died when he was seven years old. He attended elementary school in Shahr-e Kord and then attended secondary school in Esfahan and Beirut, Lebanon where he received his high school diploma from a French school.
On his way to France to continue his studies in 1934, Bakhtiar learned that his father had been executed by order of Reza Shah. He returned to Iran and remained there for two years.
He then left for France in 1936, where he earned degrees in political science, philosophy and law in 1939. In the same year, Bakhtiar married a French woman and in 1940 he volunteered for the French army and served in the "Orlean" battalion in WWII. After the war, he obtained his PH.D. in the field of political science from the Sorbonne in Paris.
In the winter of 1946, Bakhtiar returned to Iran and was employed at the newly established Ministry of Labor. Initially, he was appointed director of the Labor Department in the Province of Esfahan. Subsequently, he headed up the Labor Department in Khozestan, center of the oil industry. During the Premiership of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, Bakhtiar held the post of deputy minister of labor.
Subsequent to the coup of 1953, Bakhtiar was engaged in various activities and he remained a firm critic of the Mohammad Reza Shah's administration and was subsequently imprisoned for a total of nearly six years and banned from leaving Iran for a period of ten years.
In January 1979, Bakhtiar was appointed prime minister. He was overthrown in less than two months by the Islamic Revolution of February 1979.
Subsequently, Bakhtiar fled to France and lived in a suburb of Paris where he formed and led the National Resistance Movement of Iran, opposed to the Islamic Republic Government. On August 7, 1991, Bakhtiar was assassinated in his home.