Yul Brynner, Photographer Extraordinaire

Yul Brynner passed away in 1985 after battling cancer. At the time he was an accomplished performer with a Best Actor Oscar for his role in THE KING AND I (1956) and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. His standout roles in films such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956), ANASTASIA (1956), THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (1958), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) and WESTWORLD (1973) had earned him a legion of fans but most of us were unaware that Brynner was also a skilled photographer who had been snapping pictures of his professional pals for decades.

Brynner started his acting career on stage in Europe and eventually arrived in the US where he started working for CBS television as a director. He discovered his passion for photography in 1950 while he was employed by CBS and continued to pursue his interest after snagging the leading role in THE KING AND I, which propelled him into super stardom. He also shared his passion for photography with his daughter, Victoria Brynner, and encouraged her to take up the hobby. She developed into an accomplished photographer herself and in a personal piece for the Daily Beast she wrote, “Photography was the one topic that was totally private, just ours. After his death it was generous of Kathy, his last wife, to give me all his work, my little treasure. It was 1985 and my father had died in October. I drove from Normandy to Paris with a large trunk filled with negatives and slides, not really knowing what this would all eventually mean to me. It means the world to me now. It is my link to the past and a constant reminder of who my father really was.” After making a small selection of her father’s photos available in 1992 she received an enormous amount of positive feedback and was encouraged to release more of his work.

On the 25th anniversary of Yul Brynner’s death in 2010 Victoria Brynner generously decided to publish an extensive collection of her father’s photographs to share with the public. The collection was so large that it couldn’t be contained in one book and was released as a four volume set titled Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey. This lavish compilation of Brynner’s private photos was also part of a traveling exhibit between 2010-2012 that opened in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris and most recently Deauville, France.

The photos are a treasure trove of Hollywood memories that should appeal to anyone who loves classic movies but they also illustrate that Yul Brynner was much more than a casual hobbyist. He was a talented photographer with an incredible eye for composition. Brynner’s subjects are relaxed, often completely unaware of his camera, and when they do catch his eye their smiles are genuinely warm and inviting. His photos offer us an intimate and personal look at people who were often extremely guarded or constantly performing for the public but there are no performances here. These people are merely Yul Brynner’s coworkers, friends and family members enjoying his company and untroubled by his presence.

Below is a small sampling of Brynner’s impressive photos. You can find many more in Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey.


Robert Mitchum on location for VILLA RIDES (1968)


Deborah Kerr on the set of THE KING AND I (1956)


Charlie Chaplin and his wife Oona (1960)


Audrey Hepburn (1965)


Ingrid Bergman on the set of GOODBYE AGAIN (1961)


Anthony Perkins on the set of GOODBYE AGAIN (1961)


Vanessa Redgrave (1968)


Frank Sinatra (1964)


Mia Farrow pregnant with twins (1970)


Grace Kelly (1966)


Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (1955)


Sophia Loren on the set of HOUSEBOAT (1957)


Rita Hayworth (1965)


William Holden (date unknown)


Anita Ekberg (1956)


Marcello Mastroianni (date unknown)


Jason Robards on the set of THE JOURNEY (1959)


Elizabeth Taylor (1959)


Anthony Quinn on the set of THE BUCCANEER (1958)


Cecil B. DeMille on the set of THE 10 COMMANDMENTS (1956)


Charlton Heston on the set of THE 10 COMMANDMENTS (1956)


Yul Brynner in action on the set of THE 10 COMMANDMENTS (photographer unknown)

For more information about Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey please visit the official website for the book and traveling exhibit.

0 Response Yul Brynner, Photographer Extraordinaire
Posted By Bunny Moreno : November 29, 2012 4:59 pm

My father knew him personally so I feel a special connection to this amazing actor/man/artist. I def have to get this book-his work was stunning! Thank you so much for sharing!! xox

Posted By Bunny Moreno : November 29, 2012 4:59 pm

My father knew him personally so I feel a special connection to this amazing actor/man/artist. I def have to get this book-his work was stunning! Thank you so much for sharing!! xox

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 29, 2012 5:20 pm

Bunny – Thanks so much for sharing your story and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Brynner was immensely talented and I’m a big fan of his work. I was lucky enough to see him perform in THE KING AND I during its 1982 run and it’s a show I’ll never forget. He was truly larger than life. A great performer to the end.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 29, 2012 5:20 pm

Bunny – Thanks so much for sharing your story and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Brynner was immensely talented and I’m a big fan of his work. I was lucky enough to see him perform in THE KING AND I during its 1982 run and it’s a show I’ll never forget. He was truly larger than life. A great performer to the end.

Posted By alchamp1 : November 29, 2012 5:43 pm

Reblogged this on 20 Something SWF and commented:
Yul Brynner was awesome. Enough said.

Posted By alchamp1 : November 29, 2012 5:43 pm

Reblogged this on 20 Something SWF and commented:
Yul Brynner was awesome. Enough said.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : November 30, 2012 3:42 am

I had no idea!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : November 30, 2012 3:42 am

I had no idea!

Posted By Jenni : November 30, 2012 8:54 am

Now I know what I want for Christmas! Very interesting post!

Posted By Jenni : November 30, 2012 8:54 am

Now I know what I want for Christmas! Very interesting post!

Posted By Pamela Porter : November 30, 2012 12:43 pm

That photo of Mitchum…(sa-woon)

And is that an iconic Sinatra pic or what?

Posted By Pamela Porter : November 30, 2012 12:43 pm

That photo of Mitchum…(sa-woon)

And is that an iconic Sinatra pic or what?

Posted By Kingrat : November 30, 2012 2:44 pm

What stunning pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us. Yul Brynner was a gifted photographer.

Posted By Kingrat : November 30, 2012 2:44 pm

What stunning pictures. Thank you for sharing them with us. Yul Brynner was a gifted photographer.

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 30 – Parallax View | Parallax View : November 30, 2012 2:58 pm

[...] Brynner’s set photography—in a selection presented by Kimberly Lindbergs—has a light, unforced intimacy, with Brynner showing off a particular touch at getting female [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 30 – Parallax View | Parallax View : November 30, 2012 2:58 pm

[...] Brynner’s set photography—in a selection presented by Kimberly Lindbergs—has a light, unforced intimacy, with Brynner showing off a particular touch at getting female [...]

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 30, 2012 3:14 pm

I’m so glad you’re all enjoying the photos. I’ve always liked Brynner but his photographs really capture another side of him as well as the people he was shooting.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 30, 2012 3:14 pm

I’m so glad you’re all enjoying the photos. I’ve always liked Brynner but his photographs really capture another side of him as well as the people he was shooting.

Posted By jojo : November 30, 2012 4:30 pm

Even with weighing the fact that Mr. Brynner had access to subject matter that was more attractive than most, some of those are still pretty fantastic. The Princess Grace is my new desktop

Posted By jojo : November 30, 2012 4:30 pm

Even with weighing the fact that Mr. Brynner had access to subject matter that was more attractive than most, some of those are still pretty fantastic. The Princess Grace is my new desktop

Posted By Liam Casey : November 30, 2012 8:02 pm

That shot of Ms. Kerr is simply fantastic.

Posted By Liam Casey : November 30, 2012 8:02 pm

That shot of Ms. Kerr is simply fantastic.

Posted By Pam Kauzlarich : November 30, 2012 10:45 pm

I have always loved Yul Byrnner, but I did not know about his photography. Love his intimate pictures, especially of Deborah Kerr. Perfect. Thank you for sharring

Posted By Pam Kauzlarich : November 30, 2012 10:45 pm

I have always loved Yul Byrnner, but I did not know about his photography. Love his intimate pictures, especially of Deborah Kerr. Perfect. Thank you for sharring

Posted By Heidi : December 1, 2012 9:41 am

He has always been my favorite, but I didn’t know about the photography. Thank you for sharing! The one of Yul is very nice. I love them all, but I agree that the Mitchum one is amazing.

Posted By Heidi : December 1, 2012 9:41 am

He has always been my favorite, but I didn’t know about the photography. Thank you for sharing! The one of Yul is very nice. I love them all, but I agree that the Mitchum one is amazing.

Posted By Medusa : December 1, 2012 11:41 am

Great post, Kimberly! It’s truly hard to believe that he’s been gone for 25 years. I also so him doing a later tour of “The King and I” opposite Constance Towers (I think it was) at the Music Center in L.A. during the ’80s, probably the same tour you caught. At that time I thought about how life-changing it must have been to have seen him onstage in the role in the original production back in the 1950s; he would have been like a rare, somewhat dangerous and very sexy new species of man.

His photos are terrific. I always love photos taken OF celebrities BY celebrities, because there is the intimacy of association that usually takes away the posing and allows some glimpse into real lives and personalities. Roddy McDowall had the same access and talent, and both he and Yul gave us something that we otherwise would never have seen.

Is there any one of us ladies who would not have answered yes to “Shall We Dance?” with Brynner’s King? He was the best!

Posted By Medusa : December 1, 2012 11:41 am

Great post, Kimberly! It’s truly hard to believe that he’s been gone for 25 years. I also so him doing a later tour of “The King and I” opposite Constance Towers (I think it was) at the Music Center in L.A. during the ’80s, probably the same tour you caught. At that time I thought about how life-changing it must have been to have seen him onstage in the role in the original production back in the 1950s; he would have been like a rare, somewhat dangerous and very sexy new species of man.

His photos are terrific. I always love photos taken OF celebrities BY celebrities, because there is the intimacy of association that usually takes away the posing and allows some glimpse into real lives and personalities. Roddy McDowall had the same access and talent, and both he and Yul gave us something that we otherwise would never have seen.

Is there any one of us ladies who would not have answered yes to “Shall We Dance?” with Brynner’s King? He was the best!

Posted By jaha : December 1, 2012 12:12 pm

from a very early age i knew something was very special about mr brynner. his style was captivating. we he came on the scene in any movie he took over. from the epics to one of my favorite the bucaneer he was awesome. love,love,love the photographs. here we see a star not tmz taking kind shots of his peers. gosh how times have changed. truly a star taken way too soon

Posted By jaha : December 1, 2012 12:12 pm

from a very early age i knew something was very special about mr brynner. his style was captivating. we he came on the scene in any movie he took over. from the epics to one of my favorite the bucaneer he was awesome. love,love,love the photographs. here we see a star not tmz taking kind shots of his peers. gosh how times have changed. truly a star taken way too soon

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 1, 2012 1:37 pm

Thanks again for all the comments! I love hearing from other Brynner fans. As jaha said, he really was something special. And Medusa’s right, I can’t imagine anyone not answering “yes” if Brynner’s King asked you to dance.

And Medusa, how fun that we both saw the same KING AND I tour! My ticket was a birthday gift from my mother and she also bought herself one. I can still remember how excited I was to see him perform. I had a crush on him even back then and he’s still one of my favorite actors.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 1, 2012 1:37 pm

Thanks again for all the comments! I love hearing from other Brynner fans. As jaha said, he really was something special. And Medusa’s right, I can’t imagine anyone not answering “yes” if Brynner’s King asked you to dance.

And Medusa, how fun that we both saw the same KING AND I tour! My ticket was a birthday gift from my mother and she also bought herself one. I can still remember how excited I was to see him perform. I had a crush on him even back then and he’s still one of my favorite actors.

Posted By lol : December 3, 2012 12:08 am

frank sinatra…never without a martini in your hand ya over-rated sing song bum.

Posted By lol : December 3, 2012 12:08 am

frank sinatra…never without a martini in your hand ya over-rated sing song bum.

Posted By swac44 : December 5, 2012 8:42 am

Aside from the Anthony Perkins shots, I don’t think I’ve seen any of these before, although I was dimly aware of Brynner’s interest in photography, don’t ask me how.

Seconded on that Mitchum shot, one of the best I’ve seen of him (I also love a photo of him, late in life, snapped in the early morning mist on the Santa Monica pier, not sure who took it). The William Holden image is a keeper as well. Brynner had great taste in subject matter, so many of my favourites are pictured here.

Posted By swac44 : December 5, 2012 8:42 am

Aside from the Anthony Perkins shots, I don’t think I’ve seen any of these before, although I was dimly aware of Brynner’s interest in photography, don’t ask me how.

Seconded on that Mitchum shot, one of the best I’ve seen of him (I also love a photo of him, late in life, snapped in the early morning mist on the Santa Monica pier, not sure who took it). The William Holden image is a keeper as well. Brynner had great taste in subject matter, so many of my favourites are pictured here.

Posted By carmel calsyn : December 9, 2012 8:10 pm

When I was a very little girl, my mother took me to a big theatre in downtown Chicago to see Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in THE KING AND I. I will never, ever forget the sheer joy I felt when they launched into “Shall We Dance” WOW. When the play was over, I begged my mother to stay so we could see it again. That’s when I found out that live theatre doesn’t work like the movies. “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…”

Posted By carmel calsyn : December 9, 2012 8:10 pm

When I was a very little girl, my mother took me to a big theatre in downtown Chicago to see Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in THE KING AND I. I will never, ever forget the sheer joy I felt when they launched into “Shall We Dance” WOW. When the play was over, I begged my mother to stay so we could see it again. That’s when I found out that live theatre doesn’t work like the movies. “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…”

Leave a Reply

Current day month ye@r *

MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D  Action Films  Actors  Actors' Endorsements  Actresses  animal stars  Animation  Anime  Anthology Films  Art in Movies  Autobiography  Avant-Garde  Aviation  Awards  B-movies  Beer in Film  Behind the Scenes  Best of the Year lists  Biography  Biopics  Blu-Ray  Books on Film  Boxing films  British Cinema  Canadian Cinema  Character Actors  Chicago Film History  Cinematography  Classic Films  College Life on Film  Comedy  Comic Book Movies  Crime  Czech Film  Dance on Film  Digital Cinema  Directors  Disaster Films  Documentary  Drama  DVD  Early Talkies  Editing  Educational Films  European Influence on American Cinema  Experimental  Exploitation  Fairy Tales on Film  Faith or Christian-based Films  Family Films  Film Composers  Film Criticism  film festivals  Film History in Florida  Film Noir  Film Scholars  Film titles  Filmmaking Techniques  Films of the 1980s  Food in Film  Foreign Film  French Film  Gangster films  Genre  Genre spoofs  HD & Blu-Ray  Holiday Movies  Hollywood history  Hollywood lifestyles  Horror  Horror Movies  Icons  independent film  Italian Film  Japanese Film  Korean Film  Literary Adaptations  Martial Arts  Melodramas  Method Acting  Mexican Cinema  Moguls  Monster Movies  Movie Books  Movie Costumes  movie flops  Movie locations  Movie lovers  Movie Reviewers  Movie settings  Movie Stars  Movies about movies  Music in Film  Musicals  Outdoor Cinema  Paranoid Thrillers  Parenting on film  Pirate movies  Polish film industry  political thrillers  Politics in Film  Pornography  Pre-Code  Producers  Race in American Film  Remakes  Revenge  Road Movies  Romance  Romantic Comedies  Satire  Scandals  Science Fiction  Screenwriters  Semi-documentaries  Serials  Short Films  Silent Film  silent films  Social Problem Film  Sports  Sports on Film  Stereotypes  Straight-to-DVD  Studio Politics  Stunts and stuntmen  Suspense thriller  TCM Classic Film Festival  TCM Underground  Television  The British in Hollywood  The Germans in Hollywood  The Hungarians in Hollywood  The Irish in Hollywood  Theaters  Thriller  Trains in movies  Underground Cinema  VOD  War film  Westerns  Women in the Film Industry  Women's Weepies