Yul Brynner was a Russian-born actor of stage and film. He was best known for his portrayal of Mongkut, king of Siam, in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I on both stage and screen, as well as Rameses II in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments and Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven. Brynner was noted for his deep, rich voice and for his shaven head, which he maintained as a personal trademark after adopting it for his role in The King and I. He was also a photographer and the author of two books.
Yul Brynner was born Yuliy Borisovich Bryner in 1920. He exaggerated his background and early life for the press, claiming that he was born Taidje Khan of part-Mongol parentage, on the Russian island of Sakhalin. In reality, he was born at home in a four-story residence at #15 Aleutskaya Street, Vladivostok, Russian Far East, Russia. He also infrequently referred to himself as Julius Briner. A biography written by his son Rock Brynner in 1989 clarified these issues.
His father, Boris Julievich Bryner, was a mining engineer whose father, Jules Bryner, was Swiss and whose mother, Natalya Iosifevna Kurkutova, was a native of Irkutsk and was partly of Buryat Mongol ancestry.
His mother, Marousia Dimitrievna, came from the intelligentsia and studied to be an actress and singer; she was the daughter of a doctor who had converted from Judaism to the Russian Orthodox Church.