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Yul Brynner Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (43) | Personal Quotes (7) | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 11 July 1920Vladivostok, Russia
Date of Death 10 October 1985New York City, New York, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameYuli Borisovich Bryner
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Exotic leading man of American films, famed as much for his completely bald head as for his performances, Yul Brynner masked much of his life in mystery and outright lies designed to tease people he considered gullible. It was not until the publication of the books "Yul: The Man Who Would Be King" and "Empire and Odyssey" by his son Yul "Rock" Brynner that many of the details of Brynner's early life became clear.

Yul sometimes claimed to be a half-Swiss, half-Japanese named Taidje Khan, born on the island of Sakhalin; in reality, he was the son of Marousia Dimitrievna (Blagovidova), the Russian daughter of a doctor, and Boris Yuliyevich Bryner, a engineer and inventor of Swiss-German and Russian descent. He was born in their home town of Vladivostok on 11 July 1920, and named Yuli after his grandfather Jules Bryner. When Yuli's father abandoned the family, his mother took him and his sister Vera to Harbin, Manchuria, where they attended a YMCA school. In 1934 Yuli's mother took her children to Paris. Her son was sent to the exclusive Lycée Moncelle, but his attendance was spotty. He dropped out and became a musician, playing guitar in the nightclubs among the Russian gypsies who gave him his first real sense of family. He met luminaries such as Jean Cocteau and became an apprentice at the Theatre des Mathurins. He worked as a trapeze artist with the famed Cirque d'Hiver company.

He traveled to the U.S. in 1941 to study with acting teacher Michael Chekhov and toured the country with Chekhov's theatrical troupe. That same year, he debuted in New York as Fabian in "Twelfth Night" (billed as Youl Bryner). After working in a very early TV series, Mr. Jones and His Neighbors (1944), he played on Broadway in "Lute Song", with Mary Martin, winning awards and mild acclaim. He and his wife, actress Virginia Gilmore, starred in the first TV talk show, Mr. and Mrs. (1948). Brynner then joined CBS as a television director. He made his film debut in Port of New York (1949). Two years later Mary Martin recommended him for the part he would forever be known for: the King in Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II's musical "The King and I". Brynner became an immediate sensation in the role, repeating it for film (The King and I (1956)) and winning the Oscar for Best Actor.

For the next two decades, he maintained a starring film career despite the exotic nature of his persona, performing in a wide range of roles from Egyptian pharaohs to Western gunfighters, almost all with the same shaved head and indefinable accent. In the 1970s he returned to the role that had made him a star, and spent most of the rest of his life touring the world in "The King and I". When he developed lung cancer in the mid-1980s, he left a powerful public service announcement denouncing smoking as the cause, for broadcast after his death. The cancer and its complications, after a long illness, ended his life. Brynner was cremated and his ashes buried in a remote part of France, on the grounds of the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Bois Aubry, a short distance outside the village of Luzé. He remains one of the most fascinating, unusual and beloved stars of his time.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver < jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (4)

Kathy Lee (4 April 1983 - 10 October 1985) (his death)
Jacqueline de Croisset (23 September 1971 - 1981) (divorced) (2 children)
Doris Kleiner (31 March 1960 - 1967) (divorced) (1 child)
Virginia Gilmore (6 September 1944 - 26 March 1960) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Completely shaved head
Unflinching gaze
Deep authoritative voice

Trivia (43)

In 1950, before he achieved fame, he was the director of a children's puppet show on CBS, Life with Snarky Parker (1950), which lasted barely eight months on the air before cancellation.
Had one son with his first wife, actress Virginia Gilmore: Yul "Rock" Brynner II (born December 23, 1946).
Daughter Lark Brynner (born 1958) was born out of wedlock. She was raised by her mother, German actress Frances Martin.
Had one daughter with his second wife, Doris Kleiner: Victoria Brynner (born November 1962 in Switzerland).
Had two daughters with his third wife, Jacqueline de Croisset: Mia Brynner (adopted 1974, born in Vietnam) and Melody Brynner (adopted 1974, born in Vietnam).
Despite numerous resources stating that Brynner was interred at the non-existent "Saint Robert Churchyard at the Monastery of Saint Michael", Brynner actually was buried in the Orthodox cemetery Saint-Michel-du-Bois-Aubry of Luzé, a village 55km from Tours in Touraine, France.
Yul's paternal grandfather, Julius Bryner, was of Swiss-German origin (Julius was the son of Johannes Bruner and Marie Huber Von Windisch). Yul's paternal grandmother, Natalya Iosifovna Kurkutova, was Russian, from Irkutsk, and was said to be of part Mongolian/Buryat ancestry. Yul's maternal grandparents, Dmitriy Evgrafovich Blagovidov and Anna Timofeevna Kireeva, were also Russian, from Penza.
Is a recipient of the presitigious Connor Award, given by the brothers of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity based out of Emerson College in Boston.
He died on the same day as his The Battle on the River Neretva (1969) co-star Orson Welles: October 10, 1985.
While touring in the play "Odyssey" in the mid-1970s, he attained a reputation for being a holy terror toward hotel staff members. Among other things, all hotel suites where he would stay had to be painted a certain shade of tan and all kitchens in those hotel suites had to be stocked in advance with "one dozen brown eggs, under no circumstances white ones!" (this should be noted, in fairness, that Brynner personally paid the expense of these requests). The play itself, later retitled "Home, Sweet Homer", had a successful pre-Broadway tour of over a year, but lasted exactly one performance when it opened on Broadway in 1976.
He was an accomplished photographer. He took many photos on the sets of the various projects he worked on over the years.
Mentioned in the popular mid-1980s song "One Night in Bangkok", sung by Murray Head, from the soundtrack of the musical "Chess".
When he found out he would be playing Pharaoh Rameses II opposite Charlton Heston's Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956) and that he would be shirtless for most of the film, he began a rigorous weight lifting program because he did not want to be physically overshadowed by Charlton Heston (which explains his buffer than normal physique during The King and I (1956) another film he was set to work on at the time.)
A recording of him explaining how being bald helped him is included in a song by Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement) titled "Jo Jo's Jacket". The first verses are about Brynner and include a reference to Westworld (1973) and The King and I (1956).
Won Broadway's 1952 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "The King and I", a role he recreated in his Oscar-winning performance in the film of the same name, The King and I (1956). He also won a second, Special Tony Award in 1985 "honoring his 4,525 performances in 'The King and I'".
He was the only actor to appear in both The Magnificent Seven (1960) and its first sequel, Return of the Seven (1966). However, he did not appear in either of the other sequels, Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969) and The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972).
Had appeared in three different films with Eli Wallach: The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) and Romance of a Horsethief (1971).
Apprentice of Michael Chekhov.
Brynner married Doris Kleiner on the set during shooting of The Magnificent Seven (1960).
Is one of only eight actors to have won both a Tony and an Oscar for having portrayed the same roles on stage and screen. The others are Joel Grey (Cabaret (1972)), Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)), Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady (1964)), Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker (1962)), Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons (1966)), José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)) and Jack Albertson (The Subject Was Roses (1968)).
Three of his films were remade in the late 1990s, in rapid succession, as animated films: The King and I (1956) and Anastasia (1956) were remade as animated films of the same name The King and I (1999), Anastasia (1997)) and The Ten Commandments (1956) was remade as The Prince of Egypt (1998).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 111-114. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
According to his son, Yul "Rock" Brynner, "In his youth, Yul Brynner was Jean Cocteau's opium supplier." Empire and Odyssey, p. 141.
Audrey Hepburn is the godmother of his daughter Victoria.
Godfather of Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Loved modern appliances.
Always prepared breakfast while wearing a silk kimono.
He was a great believer in rituals.
Was very good friends with Deborah Kerr.
He badly wanted to play the title role in Spartacus (1960) and the role of Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971).
Daughter Victoria Brynner is a successful businesswoman who founded her own company Stardust Visions and Stardust Celebrities in Los Angeles (1992).
Was acting in an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' (his Broadway debut), when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. That night's show was canceled and most of the crew enlisted soon after. The show lasted only 15 performances and Brynner was out of a job until 1943.
Stan Lee used his physical likeness (noticeably his bald head and intense stare) as the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of Professor Charles Xavier in the ''X-Men'' comics (created in 1963). Brynner was 43 years old at the point.
Had played the role of King Mongkut of Siam on stage, in the movies and on a short-lived television series.
When Brynner formed his own company Alciona to produce films in which he would both star in and direct, he commissioned Jean Cocteau to design the logo for the company stationary.
After seeing Brynner in the play "Lute Song" with Mary Martin in 1949, Judy Garland wanted to do a film version of it, so she asked him to do a screen test with her. Nothing came of it, but it led to the actor's screen debut that year in Port of New York (1949).
When he got the offer to star in "The King and I" on Broadway, Brynner had established himself at CBS directing Danger (1950), Omnibus (1952) and Studio One in Hollywood (1948) as well as training new directors in the fledgling medium. He took a leave of absence to play the King and even after his success jokingly referred to acting as his part time job.
He was good friends with Frank Sinatra, and was a frequent guest at Frank's Palm Springs estate.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II initial choice for their Broadway "King and I" musical's featured role King of Siam was Rex Harrison, a role that he had played in Anna and the King of Siam (1946), but Harrison was unavailable due to film work. Mary Martin suggested Yul Brynner to Rodgers and Hammerstein II for the role since he had appeared on Broadway with her in the stage-musical "Lute Song". Rogers and Hammerstein II settled on television director and actor Yul Brynner. In rehearsals, at Yul Brynner's first meeting with costume designer Irene Sharaff, Yul Brynner had only a fringe of curly hair. Yul Brynner asked Sharaff what he was to do about it. When Sharaff told him to shave it, Brynner was horror-struck, refused, convinced he would look terrible. During out of town tryouts in New Haven, Connecticut (February 27, 1951), Sharaff told Rodgers and Hammerstein II and the director John Van Druten, "Brynner should be bald!" Ordered to shave his head, Brynner gave in, shaving off his long curly black hair, putting dark stage make-up on his shaved head. The effect was so well received that it became Brynner's trademark. Brynner came to dominate his role and the musical, starring in a four-year national tour culminating in his last performance, a special Sunday night show, on June 30, 1985, in honor of Yul Brynner and his 4,625th performance of the role. "King of the mountain as well as the show". Brynner died less than four months later, on October 10, 1985.
He was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of the superhero Green Lantern/Abin Sur (created in 1959). Brynner was 39 years old at the time. Sur is well-known like the predecessor of Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, who replaced him after his death when Sur crashed with his ship on planet Earth.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6162 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
He actively sought the role of Grigori Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). However, Tom Baker was cast.
Is one of 13 actors who have received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of a real-life king. The others in chronological order are Charles Laughton for The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933), Robert Morley for Marie Antoinette (1938), Basil Rathbone for If I Were King (1938), Laurence Olivier for Henry V (1944) and Richard III (1955), José Ferrer for Joan of Arc (1948), John Gielgud for Becket (1964), Peter O'Toole for Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968), Robert Shaw for A Man for All Seasons (1966), Richard Burton for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (1989), Nigel Hawthorne for The Madness of King George (1994), and Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010).

Personal Quotes (7)

People don't know my real self, and they're not about to find out.
[to interviewers] Just call me a nice, clean-cut Mongolian boy.
Girls have an unfair advantage over boys: If they can't get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb.
[Message recorded in January 1985, after he was diagnosed with lung cancer] Now that I'm gone, I tell you: Don't smoke, whatever you do, just don't smoke. If I could take back that smoking, we wouldn't be talking about any cancer. I'm convinced of that.
I'm not of the can-kicking, shovel-carrying, ear-scratching, torn T-shirt school of acting. There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen.
[on his character Chris Adams from The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Return of the Seven (1966)] Well... He's just a dirty bum. There are only two things clean about him: His gun and his soul.
[His Academy Award for Best Actor acceptance speech, 1957] I hope this is not a mistake, because I won't give it back for anything in the world. Thank you very much.

Salary (3)

Solomon and Sheba (1959) $600,000
Poppies Are Also Flowers (1966) £1
Anna and the King (1972) $20,000 per episode

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