Yul Brynner traded in mystery and exoticism throughout his career, whether as the lead in The King and I (1956) through countless productions; Pharaoh Rameses in The Ten Commandments (1956) ; the Mongolian emperor in Taras Bulba (1962) ; or a robotic gunfighter in Westworld (1973). Consequently, his age and date of birth were always up to question. Usually his birthdate is listed as 1915, but in a biography about Brynner, his son states his father was born in 1920. Brynner himself provided variable information about his origins. “Ordinary mortals need but one birthday,” he was fond of saying. Russian-born Brynner came of age in Paris, where he developed his skills in music and acting and also worked as a trapeze artist for a while. After coming to the United States in 1941, he began a career on stage in classical theater and musical theater. He was selected for The King and I in 1951 and came back to this musical throughout his professional life, touring and playing on Broadway into the 1980s. He won the best actor Academy Award for his role in the 1956 film version.
   But while Broadway audiences remember Brynner, with his trademark shaved head, for his singing and dancing, he also played in some excellent Westerns, beginning with John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven (1960), in which he played a gunfighter who rounds up six other hired guns in order to pursue the Mexican bandit Calvera (Eli Wallach). The role became Brynner’s trademark, reprised in Return of the Seven (1966), and, essentially, in Invitation to a Gunfighter(1964) and Catlow(1971). In this role, Brynner spoke with his cultivated accent and stared down his victims with steely eyes and an aristocratic smirk that could intimidate anyone. His futuristic Westerns of the 1970s, Westworld (1973) and Futureworld (1976), brought his gunslinger character to science fiction, and he actually donned hair for his role as the revolutionary Pancho Villa in Villa Rides(1968). Yul Brynner died of lung cancer in 1985, but before his death he filmed a public service announcement denouncing cigarette smoking to air on television after his passing.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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  • Brynner, Yul — (1920 1985)    Born on Sakhalin Island, Japan. Actor and film star whose trademark was his shaved head. He played the King of Siam in the Broadway (1951) and film (1956) versions of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein s The King and I. He also… …   Historical dictionary of the Gypsies

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  • Brynner — Yul Brynner Yul Brynner En 1956 dans Anastasia Nom de naissance Juli Borisovitch Bryner Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

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