Yul Brynner di-ed in 1985, but was very much alive on television Saturday night during ABC’s annual airing of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic The Ten Commandments. The Oscar-winner earned some new fans, despite playing the villainous Pharoah Ramesses II in the film.
In The Ten Commandments, Brynner delivered one of his most famous performances, going head-to-head with Charlton Heston’s more stoic Moses. At just 36 years old, the film gave Brynner a chance to show off his physique, which many younger fans simply could not ignore.
“I’m pretty sure I’m br-eaking several commandments right now thinking about Yul Brynner,” one person wrote.
“Gotta get in my annual comment about Yul Brynner: dude was fiiiiiiine,” another wrote.
“God, Yul Brynner’s Ramses is fantastic,” another fan wrote.
“I have seen #TheTenCommandments when was a kid, and I never noticed how handsome Yul Brynner was in his time.
He was such a great actor! There’s something beautiful about bald men,” another fan wrote.
“That’s how my family celebrated Easter. A movie not about Jesus. Also, Yul Brynner is her main man,” another wrote.
The Ten Commandments is just one of a long line of classics starring Brynner, who di-ed in 1985 at age 65 from lung ca-ncer. He spent much of his last years speaking out against smoking and di-ed just days after recording an anti-smoking public service announcement.
Some of Brynner’s other films include Anastasia, the original The Magnificent Seven and Westworld, the film HBO’s show is based on.
His most famous role was King Mongkut of Siam in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor. He also played the role on stage more than 4,000 times and won two Tony Awards.
When asked how he could play the role so many times after so many years, Brynner told the Washington Post he believed nothing is ever the same.
“I don’t believe anything is ever the same,” he said in 1981. “The only way it can be done is to start everything anew. I believe our lives are like that. It applies to us as civilians as well as artists. No two days are ever really alike, if we’re intensely aware and searching as I think we ought to be.”
As for The Ten Commandments, the film was the final movie directed by DeMille, who previously filmed the Passover story in the 1923 silent film. It was a box office sensation at the time of its release and won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Since 1999, it has been preserved on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
The film’s all-star cast also includes Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Debra Paget, John Derek, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Vincent Price and John Carradine.
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