Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ashes to ashes

Yul Brynner died of lung cancer October 10, 1985.  Until then, it seemed quite fashionable to smoke.  Growing up, all the big stars smoked.  Seeing smoke rise across the faces of the black and white celluloid images seemed to add a mystical ambiance.  John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant...they all smoked.  It wasn't until the late seventies that people as a whole started looking at smoking differently - as hazardous.  Remember the Ads that stated "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette" and "20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating...it's toasted" and "Dentists recommend Viceroy". 

John Wayne started making commercials for The American Cancer Society until his death due to lung cancer.  Yul Brynner had turned down requests by The American Cancer Society to do a commercial; he did however go from talk show to talk show sharing about his illness and urging people not to smoke.  On one of these interviews, on Good Morning America (1985) he seized the opportunity at the end of the interview to address the television audience.  He earnestly pleaded for people not to smoke as he had throughout his life.  Brynner had smoked since he was 12 years old.   The clip was replayed the day of his death and The American Cancer society asked Yule Brynner's wife if it was okay if they used the clip of her late husband in a commercial.  To me, this commercial  was the final nail in the coffin.  It was The king of The King and I, speaking from the grave.

Yes, people still smoke...stars still smoke today...but after losing so many stars to lung cancer...the American people finally got the message (from the grave).   After Yul's post-Morten plea message, cigarettes much of it's appeal and almost all of loose the glamor.




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
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