By Meaghan Walsh Gerard
With a low, refined voice, piercing dark eyes, and a rough physique, Yule Briner’s presence on screen captivated. He enjoyed a varied career that allowed him to demonstrate a wide range of skills. Whether it’s playing gypsy jazz music in a smoky Paris cafe, hosting and producing shows in the early days of television, or delivering epigramatic lines on horseback, Bryaner lived a dozen lives in his short six decades.
Briner was born in Vladivostok, a city on Russia’s far east coast – closer to Anchorage, Alaska than to Moscow. His father was an engineer and inventor of Swiss, Russian and Mongolian background. Her mother was an actress and singer of Russian Roman descent.
When Briner’s father left the family, he moved to China with his mother and older sister, Vera, for almost a decade. Later, when tensions between China and Japan escalated, he moved to Paris with his children. During their European tour, Briner worked as a circus trapeze artist and jazz guitarist in a Russian nightclub. With the imminent outbreak of war in Europe, the family moved to America.