Yes, one of my favourite actors was born on this day a hundred years ago. Named Yuli Borisovich Bryner, ‘Yul’ Brynner was born in Vladivostok on July 11, 1920 and ended up moving first to Harbin (in China) and then to Paris, along with his mother and his sister Vera after their father abandoned them. Yul’s musical and dramatic abilities came to the fore in Paris, where he became a guitarist and later a trapeze and theatre artiste. In 1941, having travelled to America, he debuted on stage in Twelfth Night. That was the start of Yul Brynner’s career in the US, debuting onscreen eight years later in Port of New York (1949).
Yul Brynner’s decidedly exotic features meant that he, like contemporary Omar Sharif, ended up playing several different nationalities in films. Russian, of course; German; Mexican; Japanese…
… and Thai.
In what proved to be his only Oscar-winning role in a career spanning almost three decades, Yul Brynner played a historical figure: the Thai ruler King Mongkut.
One final tribute on which to end the year: a goodbye to another of the many luminaries who made our films of yesteryears what they were. This time, I’m remembering Blake Edwards, the writer, director and producer who made such varied films as Operation Petticoat, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Great Race, Victor Victoria and the Peter Sellers Pink Panther series—and who was also famous for being the husband of Julie Andrews. Edwards died on December 14, 2010, aged 88, and leaves behind a formidable array of work—plus much admiration. Polls during his time behind the camera showed that Edwards was that rare personage in Hollywood, a director who was a marketable commodity!