Yul Brynner


11 Jul 1920


Vladivostok, Russia


Yuli Borisovich Bryner


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.

Actor ( 80 credits )

No Sleep TV3 (2015)  Chris Larabee Adams / ... (archive footage) (uncredite
I Am Steve McQueen (2014) Chris Larabee Adams (in 'The Magnificent Seven') (archive footage)
Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the '70s (2012) Himself (archive footage)
Filmmakers vs. Tycoons (2005) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
The Naked Archaeologist (2005)  Rameses / ... (archive footage) (8 episodes, 2005-2010
Broadway: The American Musical (2004)  King Mongkut of Siam (in 'The King and I') (2 episodes
My Sister Maria (2002) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Smoke and Mirrors: A History of Denial (1999) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
The O'Reilly Factor (1996)  Rameses (1 episode, 2008)
E! True Hollywood Story (1996)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 1998)
Kicking & Screaming (1995)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 1995)
Ingrid (1984) Himself, clip from 'Anastasia' (archive footage) (uncre
Lost to the Revolution (1980) Himself - Narrator (voice)
Death Rage (1976) Peter Marciani
Futureworld (1976) The Gunslinger
It's Showtime (1976) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
The Ultimate Warrior (1975) Carson
Österreich-Bild (1975)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2012)
Dinah! (1974)  Himself (2 episodes, 1975)
On Location with Westworld (1973) Himself (uncredited)
Westworld (1973) Gunslinger
The Serpent (1973) Col. Alexei Vlassov
Fuzz (1972) The Deaf Man
Anna and the King (1972)  King Mongkut (13 episodes, 1972)
Catlow (1971) Catlow
Romance of a Horsethief (1971) Captain Stoloff
The Light at the Edge of the World (1971) Jonathan Kongre
Great Performances (1971) (1 episode, 2003)
Adiós, Sabata (1970) Sabata / Indio Black
The Battle on the River Neretva (1969) Vlado
The Magic Christian (1969) Transvestite Cabaret Singer (uncredited)
The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) The Chairman
The File of the Golden Goose (1969) Peter Novak
The David Frost Show (1969)  Himself (2 episodes, 1971)
Villa Rides (1968) Pancho Villa
The Dick Cavett Show (1968)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
The Double Man (1967) Dan Slater / Kalmar
The Long Duel (1967) Sultan
New York, New York (1967)  Himself (1 episode, 1985)
Omnibus (1967)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2000)
Triple Cross (1966) Baron Von Grunen
Return of the Magnificent Seven (1966) Chris
The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) Colonel Salem
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) Asher Gonen
Morituri (1965) Captain Mueller
Neues aus der Welt des Films (1965)  Himself (1 episode, 1969)
Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) Jules Gaspard d'Estaing
Flight from Ashiya (1964) TSgt. Mike Takashima
Cinema (1964)  Himself (1 episode, 1972)
Kings of the Sun (1963) Chief Black Eagle
Taras Bulba (1962) Taras Bulba
Escape from Zahrain (1962) Sharif
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1973-1977)
Goodbye Again (1961) Extra in nightclub scene (uncredited)
The Mike Douglas Show (1961)  Himself (1 episode, 1977)
Testament of Orpheus (1960) L'huissier / Court usher (uncredited)
The Magnificent Seven (1960) Chris Larabee Adams
Surprise Package (1960) Nico March
Once More, with Feeling! (1960) Victor Fabian
Here's Hollywood (1960)  Himself (1 episode, 1962)
Solomon and Sheba (1959) Solomon
The Sound and the Fury (1959) Jason Compson
The Journey (1959) Major Surov
CBS Reports (1959)  Himself (1 episode, 1960)
The Buccaneer (1958) Jean Lafitte
The Brothers Karamazov (1958) Dmitri Karamazov
Anastasia (1956) General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine
The Ten Commandments (1956) Rameses
The King and I (1956) King Mongkut of Siam
Cinépanorama (1956)  Himself (1 episode, 1959)
Omnibus (1952)  Francois Villon (1 episode, 1953)
The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 1955)
What's My Line? (1950)  Himself (1 episode, 1957)
Penthouse Party (1950)  Himself (1 episode, 1950)
Port of New York (1949) Paul Vicola
Fireside Theatre (1949) (1 episode, 1949)
The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)  Himself / ... (5 episodes, 1951-1967)
Studio One in Hollywood (1948)  Dr. Nestri (2 episodes, 1949-1950)
Mr. and Mrs. (1948)  Himself - Host
Mr. Jones and His Neighbors (1944)  Mr. Jones

Producer ( 1 credit )

Life with Snarky Parker (1950) producer

Director ( 9 credits )

Omnibus (1952) (1 episode, 1953)
Danger (1950) (4 episodes, 1950)
Starlight Theatre (1950) (3 episodes, 1950)
Sure As Fate (1950) (3 episodes, 1950-1951)
We Take Your Word (1950) (1950-1951)
Life with Snarky Parker (1950)
Mr. I. Magination (1949) (unknown episodes)
Studio One in Hollywood (1948) (2 episodes, 1949)
Actor's Studio (1948) (2 episodes, 1949-1950)