The King Must Die

Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger android in WESTWORLD directed by Michael Crichton.

The following is an excerpt from “Wills of the Rich & Famous: A Fascinating Glimpse at the Legacies of Celebrities”  by Herbert E. Nass, Esq.

Yul Brynner
July 11, 1915
Siberia, Russia

October 10, 1985
New York Hospital
New York, New York

Born on the island of Sakhalin off the coast of Siberia in the Soviet Union to a Rumanian mother and father who was a Mongolian mining engineer, Yul Brynner’s ex­otic background added to the regal aura about him. As the perennial King in the theater and film versions of “The King and I”, Brynner commanded that particular role the way no other actor ever had and has come to be identified with that particular part. It was well stated in a review by the New York Times, “Yul Brynner’s performance in ‘The King and I’… can no longer be regarded as a feat of act­ing or of endurance. After 30-odd years of on-and-off barnstorming, Mr. Brynner is quite simply, The King. Man and role long since merged into a fixed image that is as much a part of our collective consciousness as the Statue of Liberty.”

At least the Statue of Liberty has hair. Brynner’s bald head was as much a part of his image as his oriental fea­tures. Brynner also had leading roles in big pictures in­cluding, “The Ten Commandments”, “The Brothers Karamazov” and “The Magnificent Seven.”

When he died, Brynner was survived by his wife, Kathy, and five children—Rock, Lark, Victoria, Mia and Melody. To his son Rock, he gave a $50,000 bequest and any stock he owned in “Hard Rock Cafe PLC, an English corporation, or Hard Rock Holdings (USA), Inc., a Delaware corporation, (or other entity owing or operating the Hard Rock Cafe in New York, New York).” It might have been easier said if Brynner gave his son any stock with the name “Rock” in it.

To his daughter Lark Lippert, Brynner made a $25,000 bequest. Daughter Victoria Brynner received a $50,000 bequest and a $100,000 trust fund for her benefit. Daugh­ters Mia and Melody got to share any tangible property that was left if Brynner’s wife had not survived. They were also beneficiaries of a separate inter vivos trust Brynner had established in 1983. Talk about playing favorites with your children. Just so there would be no mistake on that subject, Brynner’s Will includes the following:

I have intentionally made no provision in this my Will, for any of my children not named in this Will.

Brynner left the bulk of his estate to his wife Kathy Lee, including the following gifts of his two residences in New York and in France:

I give and bequeath to my wife, KATHY LEE BRYNNER, if she shall survive me, all of my right, title and interest in the capital stock of 860 West Tower, Inc. and propri­etary lease relating to cooperative apartment No. 27-A at 860 United Nations Plaza, New York, New York…

(b) If my said wife, KATHY LEE BRYNNER, shall survive me, I give, devise and bequeath to her a life estate in and to my house and land known as Le Manoir de Criquebeuf, Bonnebosq, 14340 Cambremer, France…

Kathy Lee Brynner also received all of Yul’s “automo­biles, jewelry, books, artwork, silverware, paintings, household and personal effects and similar tangible per­sonal property… “

Brynner was known to be an accomplished photographer and a lover of the arts. His Will includes the follow­ing bequests of art works to two special friends:

(a) I give and bequeath to my friend Robert Lantz, if he shall survive me, the ink and watercolor view of boats at Trouville by Boudin, if I own same at my death.

(b) I give and bequeath to my friend, Michael Lynne, if he shall survive me, the abstract painting by Vasarely, if I own the same at my death.

From Siberia to Siam, Yul Brynner will always be re­membered as the King, especially around his own castle.

/s/ Yul Brynner

Will dated July 14, 1985

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