THE INSCRUTABLE KING
by Jhan Robbins
He was the only one of the original band of gunfighters to appear in RETURN OF THE SEVEN (1966), a successor to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Once again he donned his black cowboy costume and resumed the role of Chris, a mysterious shoot-to-kill philosopher-gunfighter. Yul urged Steve McQueen, whom he regarded as his protege, to also repeat his part. McQueen begged off because of another commitment. "I'd sure like to," he said. "But I'm too busy." Privately, he admitted the new plot was absurd.
At a party given by Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, Brynner and McQueen insisted on serenading the guests with a medley of cowboy ballads. They both had been drinking heavily, and when it came time to leave, they began whistling for their horses. They were disappointed when their chauffer-driven automobiles appeared in the driveway.
"Where's mah horse?" Yul asked drunkenly.
"Thar must be a horsethief in th' crowd," McQueen replied.
He had promised Yul that he would appear with him in his next movie. A month later Brynner signed a contract to star in TRIPLE CROSS (1967), a spy thriller that was made in England and France. Again, McQueen reneged. This time he offered his excuse in a cablegram: "I'M TRULY SORRY THAT I CAN'T BE WITH YOU BUT MY HORSE REFUSES TO SWIM THE ATLANTIC."