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Virginia Brynner
August 19, 1957
The wife of a world-famous actor reveals his secret passion and tells the story of THE KING AND I ON SKIS
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August 19, 1957

The King And I On Skis

The wife of a world-famous actor reveals his secret passion and tells the story of THE KING AND I ON SKIS

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Most people when visiting a new town set out immediately to inspect all the local points of interest. They seek out the usual tourist attractions: historical spots, national monuments and museums.

Not so the King and I. Our arrival in a new locale brings on a frenzied search for oceans, bays, canals and lakes. Every sizable waterway comes under our immediate inspection, because we are this new breed of amphibian, the Water Skier.

We Brynners became victims of this "aquamania" about six years ago, when I naively gave Yul a pair of water skis and a book entitled How to Ski on Water. One thing leading to another, we now own two speedboats and a house on Long Island Sound, and are half owners of a water skiing resort in the Adirondacks. Each year we take a trip to Mexico for further instruction. Both of us are members of the American Water Ski Association and the Club de Esquis in Acapulco. We also have a few tournament ribbons from competitions in the veterans class (which means we are over 30).

Water skiers are a strange tribe of sportsmen, and their eternal search for smooth water and a sturdy tow will lead them into many unusual, if not downright dangerous, situations.

When we were on the road with The King and I, we played once in Memphis, Tenn. We had a weekend off, so Yul and I decided to hop a plane and spend a weekend of fun in New Orleans. Through the American Water Ski Association we had a letter of introduction to Dick Leconte, who had represented that locale in many tournaments.

When we arrived at the boathouse to meet the Lecontes we were discouraged to find that the water was far too choppy for skiing.

"In New Orleans we got more than one way to skin a snake," Dick said in his soft southern drawl. "I'll take you all into the bayous. You'll get real good skiing there."

We did. The water in the swamps was smooth enough to lay out a slalom course with buoys, and we competed in running the markers all day, joking and teasing each other.

I did notice, however, that each time I cut out toward the bank to line up for the next buoy, there was an unusual amount of what looked to be driftwood. I was further astonished by Leconte's remarkable agility in handling the boat. Every time I fell off the skis, the boat would speed back and I would be pulled out of the water immediately—and roughly.

It was in the evening as we headed back to the dock, pleased with our day on the bayous and the clever way we had outwitted the choppy lake water, that I inquired of Mrs. Leconte why she hadn't joined us.

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