History & Politics
Empire & Odyssey
by Rock Brynner
Empire and Odyssey follows the extraordinary journey of the Brynner family in a biography spanning four generations. The adventure begins with Jules, who leaves home in Switzerland to work his way on a pirate ship to Shanghai. From Shanghai to Yokohama, Jules established a shipping agency that would lead him to the burgeoning Russian far-east in the late 19th century. There he built a commercial empire that expanded into mining and forestry, becoming one of the founding fathers of Vladivostok.
Heir to this prosperous business was Boris Julievitch, eldest of six children by Jules and his young wife Natalya Kurkutova. Boris was educated well and travelled extensively. He married Maria Blagovidova, the mother of Vera and Yul Brynner. When the family's prosperous business interests succumbed to the Russian revolution, Boris moved his family to Habrin. He remained behind to rescue the mining operations and made many trips to Moscow to keep his business alive. Imprisoned in a gulag for six months, he was eventually released after diplomatic intervention by Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Yul, together with his mother and sister, made their way to Paris where they joined the Russian emigre community which had settled there. While Yul Brynner created many myths about himself in later years, the true story is even more extraordinary as told in this biography written by his son Rock. Taking off with a band of gypsies, Yul learned to play the guitar and began performing Russian folk-songs in nightclubs. After a brief stint as a lifeguard, he joined the circus as a trapeze artist, and only then began to study theatre in earnest under the guidance of Michael Chekhov, nephew of the great writer Anton Chekhov.
Moving to New York after the invasion of France, Yul launched his celebrated career on Broadway. In a short time he starred in "The King and I" the same role that would win him an Academy Award in Hollywood. His exotic and charismatic style propelled him to the height of stardom for several decades. Yul Brynner was irresistible to the ladies, marrying four times and his long-running affair with the legendary actress Marlene Dietrich is a staple of Hollywood lore. Yul's first wife was Rock's mother, the actress Virginia Gilmore.
Rock Brynner has embarked on some remarkable adventures of his own, as a European street clown and a Broadway star, road manager for The Band and bodyguard for Muhammad Ali, as well as a respected novelist and historian. During his recent lecture tours in Vladivostok, he visited the birthplace of his father and grandfather, and gave new life to a city in search of its own history. By reconnecting with his own family history in Empire and Odyssey, Rock has also served to reconnect an entire city with its own heritage.
About the Author
A highly respected novelist and historian, Rock Brynner has embarked on some remarkable adventures of his own, as a European street clown and a Broadway star, road manager for The Band and bodyguard for Muhammad Ali. During his recent lecture tours in Vladivostok, he visited the birthplace of his illustrious father Yul Brynner as well as his grandfather Jules, and gave new life to a city in search of its own history.
Books by Rock Brynner:
Electronic Books [Kindle Editions]: