Yul Brynner, renowned for his Broadway career as King Mongkut in “The King and I,” left a lasting legacy. His shaved head became iconic during his 34-year stint, encompassing over 4,600 performances, and his star turn in the 1956 film adaptation solidified his status as a Hollywood legend.
A Battle With Cancer
In 1983, a lump on Brynner’s vocal cords led to a diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer. The actor, famous for his distinctive voice and cigarette habit, faced a decline in ticket sales due to his health. Undeterred, Brynner turned to unconventional treatments while continuing his Broadway performances, urging fans to avoid smoking in heartfelt public service announcements.
Brynner’s Final Act on Broadway
Despite health challenges, Brynner’s commitment to his craft prevailed. He performed his last Broadway show on June 29, 1985, leaving an indelible mark on the theater world. His final months were dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of smoking, a habit he battled for years.
The Inheritance Puzzle
At 65, Yul Brynner passed away on October 10, 1985, leaving behind a net worth of $10 million. His intriguing will sparked curiosity about who would inherit his fortune. Brynner’s family and friends were mentioned in his will, but there were surprises and omissions that added complexity to the inheritance.
Inheritance for Brynner’s Biological Children
Brynner’s will addressed his three biological children. His son, Rock, received stocks in Hard Rock Cafes and a monetary gift of $50,000. Daughter Lark inherited $25,000, while Victoria received a $100,000 trust fund and an additional $50,000. Victoria later honored her father’s artistic legacy by publishing a collection of his photographs.
Omissions for Adopted Children
Surprisingly, Brynner omitted his adopted children, Mia and Melody, from the will. Only if his fourth wife, Kathy Lee, passed away, would they inherit her share. An “inter vivos” trust was established for the adopted children, indicating Brynner’s careful planning for their future.
Kathy Lee’s Generous Inheritance
Kathy Lee, Brynner’s fourth wife, received significant bequests. Two estates, an apartment at United Nations Plaza in New York City and Le Manoir de Criquebeuf in Cambremer, France, were gifted to her. Personal possessions, including cars, silverware, artworks, books, and household items, ensured she was well provided for after Brynner’s demise.
Remembering Friends in the Will
Brynner’s generosity extended to his friends, leaving a watercolor painting to Robert Lantz and an abstract Vasarely painting to Michael Lynne. As a photographer and published author, Brynner’s appreciation for the arts shone through in his thoughtful bequests, cementing his memory as a multifaceted artist beyond the stage.
Yul Brynner’s legacy lives on not only as a Broadway icon but also through the unique and meaningful bequests that reflected his values and appreciation for both family and friends.