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Yul Brynner Quotes


Yul Brynner
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Yuli Borisovich Bryner
  • Born: 11th July 1920, Vladivostok, Primorskaya Oblast, Far Eastern Republic
  • Died: 10th October 1985, New York City, New York, U.S.
  • Resting place: Russian Orthodox cemetery Saint-Michel-du-Bois-Aubry of Luzé, France
  • Occupation: Actor
  • Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
  • Influenced by: Russian actor Michael Chekhov
  • Acting trademark: His shaved head, authoritarian voice and an unflinching deep gaze
  • Famous for: Portraying the King of Siam in The King and I, he performed the role 4,625 times on stage
  • Awards: He won an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the King of Siam in the 1956 movie The King and I. He also won a Tony Award in 1952 while playing the same role in the musical version of The King and I
  • Trivia: When Brynner was first cast in The King and I his costume designer insisted he shave his head and although aghast at the thought he complied and the legend of Yul Brynner was subsequently borne in the role he came to dominate
  • Scroll down for full bio and many great quotes

"We are born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Everything in-between is a gift"

Yul Brynner

"Life would not be livable - and acting would not be feasible - if I came home from the theater and approached my wife as the King of Siam. I never identified with the King - except on stage"

Yul Brynner

"I would have liked to play Henry Higgins (in ‘My Fair Lady’), but I couldn’t because of my accent and looks. Unless I did it with an Outer Mongolian touring company"

Yul Brynner

"I like to sit on stage left, where the stage manager sits, during the overture. I get the audience’s pulse from their reaction to the music, from their sound"

Yul Brynner

"I became a circus actor. But it was depressing working on the ground. I still wanted to fly"

Yul Brynner

"Having been ill opened my eyes suddenly to the fact that ... Your future is getting shorter"

Yul Brynner

"There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen"

Yul Brynner

"Now that I'm gone, I tell you: Don't smoke. Whatever you do, just don't smoke. If I could take back that smoking, we wouldn't be talking about any cancer. I'm convinced of that"

Yul Brynner

"They decided to make a star dressing room for the Palladium Theater, not for Yul Brynner"

Yul Brynner

"No two days are ever really alike, if we're intensely aware and searching as I think we ought to be"

Yul Brynner

"Girls have an unfair advantage over boys: If they can't get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb"

Yul Brynner

"On stage I portray the King; he takes me over. I am only an adroit actor"

Yul Brynner

"You must be thankful for every tomorrow and make the most of it"

Yul Brynner

"People don't know my real self, and they're not about to find out"

Yul Brynner

I don't care a hoot what I look like. I'm not a dame"

Yul Brynner

"Just call me a nice, clean-cut Mongolian boy"

Yul Brynner

"When you feel that you have arrived, you are dead"

Yul Brynner

"I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything"

Yul Brynner

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Yul Brynner Biography

Yul Brynner was the boy from Vladivostok who used his Asian good looks and natural talent to become one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the 1950's and through to his final silver screen appearance in 1976.

Brynner was in demand making the top ten box office Hollywood stars in both 1957 and 1958. His rise to fame came when he was cast as King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I in 1951 and a costume designer called Irene Sharaff insisted that he should shave his head, he reluctantly complied and the legend of The King was born.



Brynner's portrayal of the King of Siam was spell binding, his authority on stage commanded the respect that only a true king could portray. His mesmerising stare was unflinching and his voice had the authority of an almighty ruler, he was simply a perfect fit for the role that was to become his signature.

His career could have easily type cast Brynner as the Asian actor or the King of Siam but he broke that mould by starring in different genres of successful movies such as The Ten Commandments (1956), Anastasia (1956), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Villa Rides (1968) and Westworld (1973).

Yul Brynner cultivated an imposing figure on screen who could deliver an air of sophistication or a scowl that demanded to be taken seriously as an inscrutable bad guy. An enigmatic lifestyle was built around the mystery of the bald man with piercing eyes who became the Hollywood lead directors could turn to deliver the star quality of on screen dominance as a pre-requisite.

Yul was a lifelong smoker who died of lung cancer in 1985 and he left a strongly worded message to the world about the detrimental effects of smoking cigarettes. His off screen persona was just as mysterious and he fuelled that with stories and quotes that asked more questions than gave real answers, so this is my compilation of 18 of the Best Yul Brynner quotes.

Quotes About Yul Brynner

Back stage at a 'The King And I' performance, Yul had a visitor called Cecil B. DeMille who asked him this: "Mr. Brynner, how'd you like to make a picture that your grandchildren will see in the theaters around the world? .... Then will you play Rameses in The Ten Commandments for me?"

The actor Charlton Heston was impressed to say: "He was a remarkable person. His work in ‘King and I’ was beyond compare. He was a very special talent"

The critic John Mason Brown acknowledged great casting: "I doubt a more ideal King could have been found than Yul Brynner"

The critic Frank Rich was gushing with praise: "Yul Brynner's performance in 'The King and I' - the longest-running theatrical star-turn of our time - can no longer be regarded as a feat of acting or even endurance. After 30-odd years of on-and-off barnstorming, Mr. Brynner is, quite simply, The King. Man and role have long since merged into a fixed image that is as much a part of our collective consciousness as the Statue of Liberty"

Another critic Bosley Crowther was equally impressed: "Mr. Brynner, whose original performance was so utterly virile and commanding that he took possession of the role, repeats it here in a manner that the close-in camera finds fresh with pride and power"

The character George Hanson played by Jack Nicholson in the movie Easy Rider uttered this line: "They're tryin' to make everybody look like Yul Brynner. They used - uh - rusty razor blades on the last two long-hairs that they brought in here and I wasn't here to protect them"


Yul Brynner quote