Television Q&A: Did Yul Brynner make an anti-smoking ad to air after he died?

American Cancer Society in 1986: “This is the most powerful indictment of smoking that we’ve ever produced.”

  • Sunday, February 16, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

By Rich Heldenfels / Tribune News Service

You have questions. I have some answers.

Q: I seem to remember in the mid or late 1960s that Yul Brynner made an ad that said, “If you see this message, I am dead,” and stated he died from lung cancer caused by smoking. Has my memory failed or am I correct? There’s a friendly, nonmonetary wager on this between my wife and me.

A: Your timing is a bit off, but the memory is pretty good. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986, after Brynner’s death in October 1985 an American Cancer Society ad was constructed from a “Good Morning America” interview Brynner had done in January 1985. In the clip used in the ad, Brynner says, “Now that I’m gone, I tell you, don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke.” At the time, an American Cancer Society representative told the Times, “This is the most powerful indictment of smoking that we’ve ever produced.” You can see the ad on YouTube.

Q: I haven’t heard a word about “Ozark” lately. Is it dead?

A: A third season of the Netflix series arrives on March 27. Here’s some of what Netflix says is coming:

“It’s six months later, the casino is up and running, but Marty and Wendy are fighting for control of the family’s destiny. Marty preaches keeping the status quo. Aided by an alliance with Helen and drug cartel leader Omar Navarro, Wendy plots for expansion. But when Wendy’s brother Ben comes into town, everyone’s lives are thrown into chaos.”

Q: Could you please tell me if “The Blacklist” has been canceled or when it will return?

A: Not canceled. NBC plans to bring it back sometime in March.

Q: Do you know when “The Godfather of Harlem” is scheduled to return to Epix?

A: On Feb. 12, Epix announced a 10-episode second season of the crime drama starring Forest Whitaker. It did not mention a return date but said production will begin in New York “later this year.”

Q: In an episode of “Columbo” from the early ’90s, the killer who is a famous artist paints a portrait of Columbo (Peter Falk). At the end of the episode there is the reveal of the painting. It’s a very good likeness of Falk. Do you know whatever became of the painting?

A: The portrait was in the “Columbo” installment “Murder, a Self Portrait,” which first aired in November 1989. Mark Dawidziak, author of the definitive history “The Columbo Phile: A Casebook,” confirmed that the painting is in the possession of artist Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr, whose work has appeared in TV and movies for years. You can find out more at Signed prints of the painting were available at one time, but according to Gebr’s website those are sold out and no more are planned at this time. But Dawidziak noted that fans still post the image online. (And, if you’re really interested in “Columbo” lore, a new edition of “The Columbo Phile” was published in November.)

Do you have a question or comment about entertainment past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or Letters may be edited. Individual replies are not guaranteed.

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