They don't make em like they used to... Yul Brynner, a photo which eventually ended up in an Andy Warhol collection. uhm. yeah... not too shabby...
As a child, I devoured my favorite movie musicals over and over. Beginning when I was old enough to work a VCR, and continuing to today, you can often find me curled up on a rainy Sunday afternoon, watching something for “the hundredth time.” And there’s always a good chance that I’m watching Rogers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, starring Yul Brynner, again.
I discovered later that was not only my embodiment of “the king,” but entrenched himself so thoroughly in the that any actor’s performance of the role now automatically becomes a tribute to Brynner. The only actor ever to win both an Academy Award and a Tony for the same role, Yul Brynner played King Mongkut of Siam onstage 4,625 times over 34 years, in addition to the 1956 film. He will, in many people’s minds, forever own that character.
Yul Brynner passed away October 10, 1985. Learning that fact as a child, I was old enough to be stricken with gratitude – an inexplicable appreciation that his life didn’t end until after mine began. Although Brynner defined for me a strong, complicated man, the image I hold of him today has shifted.