On October 10, 1985, at age 65, Yul Brynner dies of lung cancer in a New York hospital. After he died, in October of that year, officials at the American Cancer Society had the idea of using the footage from “Good Morning America” to make a public service announcement, the announcement, completed in 1985 and first aired in early 1986, remains one of the most memorable antismoking statements ever made in the whole world. You can read here an english translation I made from the full text of the message on smoking that Yul Brynner wrote for this announcement.
By the time you watch this, I will be dead.
Yes, you are watching my image, and listening to my voice, and so it seems that I am alive; but it is all an illusion. Don’t you believe me? Try then to write me a letter and see the kind of answer you will get.
I didn’t want to die; I really enjoyed to live – at least as much as I hope you have enjoyed my work in The king and I, Westworld, The Magnificent Seven and a long list of projects for the movies and television which I starred in or that I helped to turn them into reality – but inspite of all my desire to live, now I am as dead as the television in which you are watching me.
I will no longer be able to perceive the first breaths of fresh air in spring; I will never hear the children laughing; as they dream the dreams that cannot be real – although sometimes they are real because they dream them -; I will no longer be able to feel the soft and smooth skin of the true love of my life.
It has been taken from me all the good of life; all that I – or anyone – would want to experience forever will be no longer for me.
Because a hundred of cigarettes a day were more important for me than all the wives, children and springs of the Creation.
Because I was too stupid to admit that what I was doing could kill me; as if the cells of my body knew that I would never want to die and they would eat me alive. Because I thought I needed those cigars to keep the flow of my creative juices, disregarding – in a very convenient way – the fact that some creative minds that have been born never needed a drop of poison to take all the prizes.
Because I was too week to spend a day or two without this “harmless pleasure” that I would have needed to find one truly harmless!
And because due to all of that, now I am dead.
Would I have lived forever? Of course not, but when all your days have been taken from you, you just become in “forever”! And what would I have given for that day more, especially if it were without all the pain and misery that it costed me my stupid habit?
Huh? How much time do you have?
Do I want you to come with me, so we can share stories of smokers? Yes, if that puts an end to your pain as it did with mine. And, do I wish you that pain, if you still don’t have it? So, why do you think I am talking to you right now?
Well, I am dead; as much as you will be if you don’t take the control of your life from whom is having it now.
Is it hard to quit? Of course it is.
But, do you “really” want to do it? Try inviting me to dinner!!
As for me, I should save air because I have not much left; I should have more, but I gave the rest. My only hope is to have done it so you don’t do the same – a bit like what that carpenter from Nazareth did, a long, long time ago -. If so, I can go to rest with a little more peace; if not – if you cannot wait to follow me wherever I go – then I will have died in vain… and so will you!
End of the transmission.