"I guess I look like a rock quarry that someone has dynamited." Charles Bronson
Deceased actor/director John Huston once referred to rugged, weathered-handsome Bronson as 'a grenade with the pin pulled.'
Charles Bronson, born in 1921, died in 2003, gained wide recognition costarring as one of the seven gunfighters in the star-studded hit Western, The Magnificent Seven, in 1960. His later role of revenge-seeking vigilante, architect Paul Kersey, in the well-known violent dramatic film, Death Wish (1974), and its four sequels, Death Wish II (1982), Death Wish 3 (1985), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987) and Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994) helped keep Bronson at the top.
A worldwide motion picture icon for over half a century, Bronson, who had been on screen from 1951 to 1999, also built his name in such other memorable films as The Great Escape (1963), The Mechanic (1972), and The Dirty Dozen (1967), not to mention Ten to Midnight (1983), The President's Assassin (1987), and Dead to Rights (1995). Also a leader in "spaghetti" westerns, Bronson made films like Once Upon A Time In The West a cult classic.
Childhood and Family:
Charles Dennis Buchinsky, who would later be famous as Charles Bronson, was born on November 3, 1921 to Lithuanian immigrant parents.
Born in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, Bronson, who has carried the nicknames Brutto (Italy) and Le Sacre Monstre (France), was the only son of 15 children to graduate high school. When he was 10 years old, his father died and in order to help his family, 16-year-old Bronson joined his brothers in the coalmines. He enlisted with the Army Air Corps during World War II and became a tail gunner. Bronson received several awards for his tour of duty, including the prestigious Purple Heart for wounds he received during battle. Acting beckoned and Bronson used the G.I Bill of Rights to study art and attend the Pasadena Playhouse in California.
Bronson had three marriages in his lifetime. In 1949, he married first wife Harriet Tendler, but the couple later divorced in 1967. Bronson and Tendler shared two kids, Tony and Suzanne. In his second marriage, Bronson tied the knot with actresses Jill Ireland (born on April 24, 1936; died on May 18, 1990 of breast cancer). The couple had one daughter together with Jill bringing three children into Charles' life from her former marriage to actor David McCallum. On December 22, 1998, Charles Bronson married actress Kim Weeks. After suffering from Alzheimer for several years, Charles Bronson died of pneumonia in August 2003 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His wife, Kim, was by his side.
"Someday I'd like a part where I can lean my elbow against a mantelpiece and have a cocktail." Charles Bronson
Introduced by his mentor in California's Pasadena Playhouse to director Henry Hathaway, Charles Bronson landed his first film work in You're in the Navy Now (1951). After several undistinguished roles in films like The People Against O'Hara (1951), The Mob (1951), and Red Skies of Montana (1952), Bronson managed to appear in more memorable roles in Pat and Mike (1952), House of Wax (1953), Apache (1954), Drum Beat (1954) and Vera Cruz (1954). He was also in Target Zero (1955), Jubal (1956), Run of the Arrow (1957), and Machine-Gun Kelly (1958), as well as When Hell Broke Loose (1958). On the small screen, he portrayed the lead role of photographer Mike Kovac, from 1958 to 1960, in the series Man with a Camera (1958).
His first breakthrough was in 1960 when he was cast in the supporting role of Irish-Mexican gunslinger, Bernardo O'Reilly, in John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven. Roles begin to roll in and Bronson appeared in Master of the World (1961), A Thunder of Drums (1961), X-15 (1962), Kid Galahad (1962), and 4 for Texas (1963). For a year (1963-1964), Bronson portrayed Linc Murdock in the TV series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters. He later received better roles in the World War II classic The Great Escape (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), and the hit The Dirty Dozen (1967).
In the late 1960s, Bronson moved to Europe and starred in such movies as Alain Delon's Adieu l'ami (1968, a.k.a. Farewell, Friend), La Bataille de San Sebastian (1968, a.k.a. Guns for San Sebastian), and Sergio Leone's epic C'era una volta il West (1968, a.k.a. Once Upon a Time in The West). He also acted in Le Passager de la pluie (1969, a.k.a. Rider On The Rain), Città violenta (1970, a.k.a. The Family), De la part des copains (1971, a.k.a. Cold Sweat), and shared the screen with Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune in the huge hit Soleil Rouge (1971, a.k.a. Red Sun).
Arriving back in the USA, Bronson continued his victory playing lead roles in the films The Valachi Papers (1972), Chato's Land (1972), The Mechanic (1972), and The Stone Killer (1973), as well as Mr. Majestyk (1974). He subsequently achieved his superstardom status portraying the lead role of revengeful architect Paul Kersey in Michael Winner's controversial smash hit Death Wish (1974), and its continuation in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1994. Additionally, Bronson's acting work kept rolling in with Hard Times (1975), Breakheart Pass (1975), and From Noon Till Three (1976), as well as The White Buffalo (1977). Always an action actor, Bronson was also involved in such films as Breakout (1975), Don Siegel's Telefon (1977), Raid on Entebbe (1977, TV), and Love and Bullets (1979).
During the 1980s, Bronson added to his acting resume with such films as 10 to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), Murphy's Law (1986), Assassination (1987), and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989). He also came to the tube with the films Act of Vengeance (1986), Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (1991), and The Sea Wolf (1993). In 1991, he played the role of a strict father, Mr. Roberts, in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991).
Before his death, Bronson starred as police officer Paul Fein in the much-admired TV crime-drama Family of Cops (1995, 1997, and 1999). "Acting is the easiest thing I've done, I guess that's why I'm stuck with it." Charles Bronson