Here's Who Inherited Yul Brynner's Money After He Died

Actor Yul Brynner had a historic Broadway career, spending 34 years acting as King Mongkut in "The King and I" on Broadway, and starring in the 1956 film adaptation (via Britannica). He shaved his head for the role, and it became his signature look. The actor dazzled crowds with more than 4,600 performances as the King of Siam, spanning three decades. In his personal life, Brynner was married four times (via Fabiosa). He had three biological children: Rock, Lark, and Victoria. He and his third wife, Jacqueline Thion de la Chaume, adopted two children, Mia and Melody. In his later years, Brynner began dating Kathy Lee, to whom he was married for the last two years of his life.

According to Cancer Today Magazine (via The Wayback Machine), in 1983, Brynner paid a visit to his doctor after finding a lump on his vocal cords. He was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and a tumor near his heart, the result of years of smoking cigarettes. He found out just before his 4,000th Broadway performance.

Final Broadway performance

The radiation treatments Brynner underwent made his throat raw and sore, and his acting career suffered (via The Wayback Machine). Brynner's son Rock recalled his father's comment about low ticket sales, saying, "Cancer is a real poison at the box office." Brynner, who spent years being photographed with a cigarette always in hand, spent his final months creating televised public service announcements. He implored his fans to never start smoking cigarettes. (They're posted on YouTube.)

According to the Los Angeles Times, Brynner smoked five packs of cigarettes each day until he was diagnosed. He sought out both common and nontraditional cancer treatment options, going through a round of radiation followed by a plant-based vitamin treatment. As he told The New York Times, he was still enjoying his daily Broadway performances, saying that he would rather receive standing ovations from his thousands of fans than lay in bed and rest. Brynner performed his final Broadway show on June 29, 1985 (via Los Angeles Times).

Stocks and trust funds

At the age of 65, Yul Brynner died on October 10, 1985 (via Biography) in New York, and was buried in La Tourraine, France. His children and wife remained at his bedside in his final hours (via The New York Times). The Oscar- and Tony-winning actor left an intriguing will for his family — so who inherited his money after "The King" died? According to Blumberg Blog, Brynner bequeathed some money to his family, and some to friends. He reportedly had a net worth of $10 million (via Celebrity Net Worth). But he made some striking omissions in his will, too.

Brynner addressed part of his will to his three biological children (via Blumberg Blog). Brynner gave his son Rock all of his stocks in Hard Rock Cafes across New York and Delaware, perhaps finding humor in the matching names. He also gave Rock $50,000. Then, to his daughter Lark, Brynner bequeathed $25,000. He established a $100,000 trust fund for his daughter Victoria, and lavished her with another $50,000. About 25 years after Brynner's death, Victoria would go on to publish a collection of her father's photographs, saying that the photographs were a noteworthy addition to Brynner's artistic legacy (via Vogue).

Ignored in Brynner's will

But as for his adopted children, Mia and Melody, Brynner omitted them from the will (via Blumberg Blog). Brynner basically wrote that he had made no provisions for any children who weren't explicitly mentioned in the will. The only way his adopted children would inherit anything was if Kathy Lee died and left them her share. Brynner had apparently created an "inter vivos" trust, sometimes called a living will, for his two adopted children (via Investopedia).

However, Kathy Lee, Brynner's fourth and final wife, was well taken care of after the actor died (via Blumberg Blog). She was gifted two estates. The first was an apartment at United Nations Plaza in New York City, and the second was Le Manoir de Criquebeuf in Cambremer, France. Brynner also left her many of his personal possessions, including his cars, silverware, works of art, book collection, and household items.

Brynner didn't forget his friends, either. He gave a watercolor painting of boats to his friend Robert Lantz, and he gave an abstract Vasarely painting to his friend Michael Lynne. As a photographer and twice-published author, Brynner had an appreciation for the arts (via Biography). His memory lives on as an unforgettable character from "The King and I," as one of the longest-performing Broadway actors in history.