Yul Brynner's Lost Photography
Not many people are aware of celebrated actor Yul Brynner’s penchant for photography, but the beloved star of The King and I toted his camera around Hollywood for years. A newly released collection, Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey, edited by his daughter, Victoria Brynner, offers an in-depth look at his work.
A Daughter Remembers
All it took for Victoria Brynner to publish a retrospective on her father’s photography was fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld and a day driving with him in a minivan.
Brynner, founder of production services company Stardust Visions, met with Lagerfeld about five years ago in L.A. to scout a Chanel shoot. She’d known the designer for years; he also was a friend of her father’s.
The conversation turned to the late actor’s photos. In 1995, she published a small book that included a selection of his photography but was open to a more comprehensive work. It helped that Lagerfeld has an imprint, Edition 7L, part of the Steidl publishing house. “He said, ‘I think we should do another book,’” Brynner says.
From there, it was a matter of cataloging more than 8,000 images from the actor’s archive and selecting about 600 for the four-volume Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey, released this fall by Edition 7L. The set is divided by topics: photos of friends and family; time on sets; Brynner’s films of 1956, his busiest year; and his personal style. The actor, who favored Leica cameras but also shot with Nikons and Fujis, always had one in hand, Brynner remembers.
“What’s really striking is a man that was so busy working as an actor photographed almost as if he was on assignment,” she says. — Daniel Miller