Friday, 16 January 2009

Yul Brynner

Born Yuliy Borisovich Brynner, his mother Marusya Blagоvidova was the daughter of a Russian doctor and his father, Boris Brynner was an engineer and inventor.
Yul was named after his paternal grandfather, Jules Brynner.
After his father abandoned the family, his mother took Yul and his sister, Vera Bryner to China, where they attended a school run by the YMCA. They relocated again in 1934, this time to Paris.
He made an immediate impact upon launching his film career in 1956, appearing not only in the film version of The King and I that year, but also in major roles in,
"The Ten Commandments" opposite Charlton Heston and Anastasia opposite Ingrid Bergman.
However, he found his perfect role in The King And I.
The Academy Award-winning success that might have become a trap for a lesser star became the ongoing glory of his career, from the peak of his stardom to his untimely death.
He later appeared in such films as the Biblical epic Solomon and Sheba (1959), as Solomon, The Magnificent Seven (1960), and Westworld (1973).
He also co-starred with Marlon Brando in Morituri; Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot and William Shatner in a film version of The Brothers Karamazov.
He starred with Barbara Bouchet in Death Rage, 1976. His final feature film appearance was in the sequel to Westworld, titled Futureworld with Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner, in 1976.
In 1977, Brynner embarked upon a stage revival of The King and I, and though he was dogged by tales of his outrageous temperament and seemingly petty demands during the tour, audiences loved the show.
Brynner was married four times, the first three ending in divorce.
He had three children and adopted two others. His fourth wife, Kathy Lee, was a dancer in The King and I shows. They married in 1983.
He developed lung cancer in the mid-1980s, he left a powerful public service announcement denouncing smoking as the cause, for broadcast after his death.
The cancer and its complications, after a long illness, ended his life.
Brynner was cremated and his ashes buried in a remote part of France, on the grounds of the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Bois Aubry, a short distance outside the village of Luzé.
He remains one of the most fascinating, unusual and beloved stars of his time.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Greta Garbo

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden on September 18, 1905. She was 14 when her father died, leaving the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store. The store used her for her modeling abilities for newspaper ads.
She had no film aspirations until she appeared in an advertising short at that same department store while she was still a teenager. This led to another short film when Erik A. Petschler, a comedy director, saw the film. He gave her a small part in the film, _Luffarpetter (1922)_. Encouraged by her own performance she applied for and won a scholarship in a Swedish drama school.
While there she appeared in two films, Lyckoriddare, En (1921) and _Luffarpetter (1922)_ the following year. Both were small parts, but it was a start.
Finally famed Swedish director, Mauritz Stiller, pulled her from drama school for the leading role in Gösta Berlings saga (1924). At 18, Greta was on a roll. Following Die Freudlose Gasse (1925) both Greta and Stiller were offered contracts with MGM. Her first US film was Torrent (1926). It was a silent film where she didn't have to speak a word of English.
After a few more films, such as The Temptress (1926), Love (1927/I), and A Woman of Affairs (1928), Greta starred in Anna Christie (1930) (her first "talkie"), which not only gave her a powerful screen presence, but also gave her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.
Unfortunately she didn't win. Later that year she filmed Romance (1930) which was somewhat of a letdown, but bounced back as lead role in Susan Lenox (1931) with Clark Gable. The film was a hit and led to another exciting title role in Mata Hari (1931).
Greta continued to give intensified performances in whatever was handed her. The next year Greta was cast in another hit Grand Hotel (1932).
But it was MGM's Anna Karenina (1935) where she, perhaps, gave the performance of her life. She was absolutely breathtaking in the title role as a woman torn between two lovers and her son. Greta starred in Ninotchka (1939) which showcased her comedic side.
It wasn't until two years later she made what was to be her last film that being Two-Faced Woman (1941), another comedy. After World War II, Greta, by her own admission, felt that the world had changed perhaps forever and she retired, never again to face the camera.
Her films, she felt, had their proper place in history and would gain in value.
On April 15, 1990, Greta died of natural causes in New York and with it the "Garbo Mystique". She was 84.