Yul Brynner (Russian: Юлий Борисович Бринер, Yuliy Borisovich Briner; July 11, 1920 – October 10, 1985) was a Russian-born American 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, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the film version; he also played the role more than 4,500 times on stage. He is also remembered as Rameses II in the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments, General Bounine in Anastasia and Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven. Brynner was noted for his distinctive voice and for his shaven head, which he maintained as a personal trademark long after adopting it for his initial 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-Tatar parentage, on the Russian island of Sakhalin. In reality, he was born at home in a four-story residence at 15 Aleutskaya Street, Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East (present-day Primorsky Krai, Russia). He also occasionally referred to himself as Julius Briner, Jules Bryner, or Youl Bryner. 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 Iosifovna Kurkutova, was a native of Irkutsk and was partly of Buryat Mongol ancestry.