Yul Brynner

Biography

Yul Brynner (Russian: Юлий Борисович Бринер, Yuliy Borisovich Bryner; July 11, 1920 – October 10, 1985) was a Russian stage and film actor. He was best known for his portrayal of Mongkut, king of Siam, in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the film version; he also played the role more than 4,500 times onstage. He is also remembered as Rameses II in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster The Ten Commandments, General Bounine in Anastasia and Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven. Brynner was noted for his distinctive voice and for his shaven head, which he maintained as a personal trademark long after adopting it for his initial role in The King and I. He was also a photographer and the author of two books. Career Yul Brynner began acting and modeling in his twenties and early in his career he was photographed nude by George Platt Lynes. After his radio work during World War II Brynner moved into the nascent television industry, directing and acting in live productions in New York. In 1949 Brynner made his film debut in Port of New York, his only film with his natural head of hair. His best-known role remains that of King Mongkut of Siam in the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I which he played 4,525 times on stage over the span of his career. He appeared in the original production and later touring productions as well as a 1977 Broadway revival, London Production in 1979 and another Broadway revival in 1985. He also appeared in the film version for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor and in a short-lived TV version (Anna and the King) on CBS in 1972. Brynner is one of only nine people who have won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the same role. His connection to the story and the role of King Mongkut is so deep he was mentioned in the song "One Night in Bangkok" from the 1984 musical Chess whose second act is set in Bangkok. In 1951 Brynner shaved his head for his role in The King and I. Following the huge success of the Broadway production and subsequent film, Brynner continued to shave his head for the rest of his life though he would sometimes wear a wig for certain roles. Brynner's shaved head was very unusual at the time and his striking appearance helped to give him an iconic appeal. Some fans shaved off their hair to emulate him, and a shaved head was often referred to as the "Yul Brynner look". Brynner made an immediate impact upon launching his mainstream film career in 1956 and quickly gained superstar status after appearing not only in The King and I that year but also in starring roles in The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston which remains one of the top five highest grossing films in history when adjusted for inflation and Anastasia with Ingrid Bergman. Brynner, at 5'10", was reportedly concerned about being overshadowed by Heston's height and physical presence in The Ten Commandments and prepared his impressive physique seen in the film with an intensive weight-lifting program. He later starred in films such as the epic Solomon and Sheba (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Taras Bulba (1962) and Kings of the Sun (1963). He co-starred with Marlon Brando in Morituri (1965), Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) and William Shatner in a film version of The Brothers Karamazov (1958). He played the titular role of The Ultimate Warrior (1975) and starred with Barbara Bouchet in Death Rage (1976). Among his final feature film appearances were in Michael Crichton's Westworld (1973) and its sequel Futureworld (1976). Brynner also appeared in drag (as a torch singer) in an unbilled role in the Peter Sellers comedy The Magic Christian (1969). Personal Life Brynner was married four times, the first three ending in divorce. He fathered three children and adopted two. He and his first wife, actress Virginia Gilmore (1944–1960), had one child, Yul Brynner II, who was born on December 23, 1946. His father nicknamed him "Rock" when he was six in honor of boxer Rocky Graziano, who won the middleweight title in 1947. Rock is a historian, novelist, and university history lecturer at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. In 2006, Rock wrote a book about his father and his family history titled Empire and Odyssey: The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond. Rock regularly returns to Vladivostok, the city of his father's birth, for the "Pacific Meridian" Film Festival. His daughter Lark Brynner (born 1959) was born out of wedlock and raised by her mother, Frankie Tilden, who was 20 years old when her daughter was born. Brynner supported her financially. His second wife, from 1960 to 1967, Doris Kleiner, was a Chilean model whom he married on the set during shooting of The Magnificent Seven in 1960. They had one child, Victoria Brynner (born November 1962), whose godmother was Audrey Hepburn. His third wife, Jacqueline Thion de la Chaume (1971–1981), was a French socialite, the widow of Philippe de Croisset (the victim of a car accident; he was the son of French playwright Francis de Croisset and a publishing executive). Brynner and Jacqueline adopted two Vietnamese children: Mia (1974), and Melody (1975). The first house that he ever owned was the Manoir de Cricqueboeuf, a sixteenth-century manor house that he and Jacqueline purchased. At the age of 63, he married his fourth wife, Kathy Lee, a 24-year-old ballerina from a small town in Malaysia whom he had met in a production of The King and I in which she had a small dancing role. They remained married for the last 2 years (1983–1985) of Brynner's life. According to Marlene Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva (as she wrote in her memoir Marlene Dietrich, 1994), he had a passionate affair with the famous actress during the first production of The King and I. Brynner died of lung cancer on October 10,1985 in New York City, the same day as his Battle of Neretva co-star Orson Welles. Honors and Awards His childhood home in Vladivostok is now a museum. In 1952 he received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of The King in The King and I (musical). He won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the King of Siam in The King and I and made the "Top 10 Stars of the Year" list in both 1957 and 1958. In 1985 he received a Special Tony Award honoring his 4,525 performances in The King and I. Filmography Features: Port of New York (1949) The King and I (1956) The Ten Commandments (1956) Anastasia (1956) The Brothers Karamazov (1958) The Buccaneer (1958) The Journey (1959) The Sound and the Fury (1959) Solomon and Sheba (1959) Once More, with Feeling! (1960) Testament of Orpheus (1960) Surprise Package (1960) The Magnificent Seven (1960) Goodbye Again (1961) Escape from Zahrain (1962) Taras Bulba (1962) Kings of the Sun (1963) Flight from Ashiya (1964) Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) Morituri (1965) Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) Return of the Seven (1966) Triple Cross (1966) The Double Man (1967) The Long Duel (1967) Villa Rides (1968) The Picasso Summer (1969) The File of the Golden Goose (1969) Battle of Neretva (1969) The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) The Magic Christian (1969) Adiós, Sabata (1971) The Light at the Edge of the World (1971) Romance of a Horsethief (1971) Catlow (1971) Fuzz (1972) Night Flight from Moscow (1973) Westworld (1973) The Ultimate Warrior (1975) Death Rage (1976) Futureworld (1976) Stage Work Twelfth Night (December 2–13, 1941) (Broadway) The Moon Vine (February 11–27, 1943) (Broadway) Lute Song (February 6 – June 8, 1946) (Broadway) The King and I (March 29, 1951 – December 17, 1955) (Broadway and national tour) Home Sweet Homer (January 4, 1976) (Broadway) The King and I (Revival) (May 2, 1977 – December 30, 1978) (Broadway and national tour) The King and I (Revival) (January 7 – June 30, 1985) (Broadway)

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Person Photo

Birth Name

Yuli Borisovich Bryner

Birth Place

Vladivostok, Russie

Birth Date

7/11/1920

Death Date

10/10/1985
Known For
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The Magnificent Seven

Chris Larabee Adams

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The Ten Commandments

Rameses

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Westworld

Gunslinger

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The King and I

King Mongkut of Siam

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Return of the Magnificent Seven

Chris Adams

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Adios, Sabata

Sabata / Indio Black

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Anastasia

General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine

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Solomon and Sheba

Solomon

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Kings of the Sun

Chief Black Eagle

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Morituri

Captain Mueller

Starring In
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Les mille et une vies de Yul Brynner

Self - Subject (archive footage)

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Ich bin Steve McQueen

Chris Larabee Adams (in 'The Magnificent Seven') (archive footage)

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Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the '70s

Self (archive footage)

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Meine Schwester Maria

Self (archive footage) (uncredited)

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20th Century Fox: The First 50 Years

Himself (archive footage)

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Futureworld

The Gunslinger

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Death Rage

Peter Marciani

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The Ultimate Warrior

Carson

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Westworld

Gunslinger

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Fuzz

The Deaf Man

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Night Flight from Moscow

Col. Alexei Vlassov

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Catlow

Catlow

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Il Romanzo di un Ladro di Cavalli

Captain Stoloff

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Le Phare Du Bout Du Monde

Jonathan Kongre

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Adios, Sabata

Sabata / Indio Black

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The Magic Christian

Transvestite Cabaret Singer (uncredited)

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La huella conduce a Londres

Peter Novak

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The Battle of Neretva

Vlado

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Villa Rides

Pancho Villa

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The Double Man

Dan Slater / Kalmar

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The Long Duel

Sultan

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Triple Cross

Baron Von Grunen

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Return of the Magnificent Seven

Chris Adams

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Cast a Giant Shadow

Asher Gonen

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Mohn ist auch eine Blume

Colonel Salem

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Morituri

Captain Mueller

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Invitation to a Gunfighter

Jules Gaspard d'Estaing

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Wir warten in Ashiya

TSgt. Mike Takashima

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Kings of the Sun

Chief Black Eagle

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Taras Bulba

Taras Bulba

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Escape from Zahrain

Sharif

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Goodbye Again

Extra in nightclub scene (uncredited)

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The Magnificent Seven

Chris Larabee Adams

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Testament of Orpheus

L'huissier/Court usher

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The Journey

Major Surov

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Solomon and Sheba

Solomon

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The Sound and the Fury

Jason Compson

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Die Brüder Karamasow

Dmitri Karamazov

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Buccaneer, The

Jean Lafitte

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Anastasia

General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine

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The Ten Commandments

Rameses

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The King and I

King Mongkut of Siam

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Port of New York

Paul Vicola

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