Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on November 29, 2012
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.
For more information about Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey please visit the official website for the book and traveling exhibit.
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