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Charles Bronson

Charles BronsonAKA Charles Dennis Buchinsky

Born: 3-Nov-1921
Birthplace: Ehrenfeld, PA
Died: 30-Aug-2003
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA [1]
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Buried, Brownsville Cemetery, West Windsor, VT

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Death Wish

Military service: US Army Air Corps (1943-46)

Charles Buchinsky was born into a Luthuanian family in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania. His father was a coal miner who died when Charles was 10. By age 16, the young Charles was working in a mine as well, with bleak prospects. In 1943 he was drafted, and served in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, both in the states and on the island of Guam. After the war, odd jobs brought him in contact with actors, and in 1949 he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Bronson landed bit parts in low budget movies, uncredited at the beginning, and sometimes credited as Buchinsky. In 1953 he played the part of Igor in House of Wax, and the following year, the role of Hondo, an Indian, in Apache. He landed his first lead in Roger Corman's 1958 crime film Machine Gun Kelly. It was formulaic but for what it was, still a decent movie. Following that, he became a staple in the action genre, with very good parts in The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), and The Dirty Dozen (1967) -- all films that have stood the test of time. But it is odd to see him playing a beatnik in The Sandpiper (1965), a Taylor/Burton romantic drama.

French director Alain Delon brought him to Europe for a major role in Adieu l'ami (1968), which in the United States was titled Farewell, Friend. For a time, Bronson was more well-known in Europe than in the United States. Films from this period include the Spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Rider on the Rain (1969). He turned down the role of The Man With No Name in Sergio Leone's trilogy, which then went to Clint Eastwood.

Above all, Bronson is best known for the the five Death Wish films, of which the first three are directed by Michael Winner. His character, Paul Kersey, is an architect whose wife is murdered and daughter is raped by punks. Kersey becomes a vigilante, hunting down the culprits one by one. The second film, his daughter is killed and he repeats the process. All five are variations on this theme. It is unfortunate that Bronson's name became associated with these violent films, as his acting talents were wasted on these mediocre roles and screenplays.

After a 1998 hip replacement, Bronson essentially retired. His health deteriorated, and he suffered from Alzheimer's in his final years. He died from pneumonia in 2003 at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, aged 81.


[1] Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.

Father: (coal miner)
Mother: (d. 1934)
Wife: Harriet Tendler (m. 1949, div. 1965)
Wife:
Jill Ireland (actress, m. 4-Oct-1968, d. 18-May-1990 breast cancer)
Wife: Kim Weeks (m. 22-Dec-1998)
Son: Tony
Daughter: Suzanne
Son: Jason McCallum (stepson, d. Nov-1989, heroin overdose)
Daughter: Zuleika
Daughter: Katrina Holden Bronson (adopted)
Son: Valentine McCallum (stepson, b. 1962, with Ireland, d.)
Son: Paul McCallum (stepson, b. 1963, with Ireland)

    High School: South Fork High School, Ehrenfeld, PA (1939)

    Hip Replacement Surgery 1998
    Purple Heart
    Lithuanian Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Alzheimer's

    TELEVISION
    The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters Linc Murdock (1963-64)
    Empire Paul Moreno (1962-63)
    Man with a Camera Mike Kovac (1958-60)

    FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
    Family of Cops III: Under Suspicion (12-Jan-1999)
    Breach of Faith: Family of Cops II (2-Feb-1997)
    Family of Cops (26-Nov-1995)
    Death Wish V: The Face of Death (14-Jan-1994)
    Donato and Daughter (21-Sep-1993)
    The Sea Wolf (18-Apr-1993)
    Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (8-Dec-1991)
    The Indian Runner (7-Sep-1991)
    Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (3-Feb-1989)
    Messenger of Death (16-Sep-1988)
    Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (6-Nov-1987)
    Assassination (9-Jan-1987) · Jay Killion
    Act of Vengeance (21-Apr-1986)
    Murphy's Law (18-Apr-1986)
    Death Wish 3 (1-Nov-1985)
    The Evil That Men Do (15-Mar-1984)
    10 to Midnight (11-Mar-1983) · Leo Kessler
    Death Wish II (20-Feb-1982) · Paul Kersey
    Death Hunt (21-Sep-1981)
    Borderline (31-Oct-1980)
    Caboblanco (14-Mar-1980)
    Love and Bullets (10-Aug-1979)
    The Meanest Men in the West (1978)
    Telefon (16-Dec-1977)
    The White Buffalo (May-1977) · Bill Hickok
    Raid on Entebbe (9-Jan-1977)
    St. Ives (17-Sep-1976)
    From Noon Till Three (13-Aug-1976)
    Breakheart Pass (25-Dec-1975) · Deakin
    Hard Times (4-Sep-1975)
    Breakout (7-Mar-1975)
    Death Wish (24-Jul-1974) · Paul Kersey
    Mr. Majestyk (17-Jul-1974) · Vince Majestyk
    Chino (14-Sep-1973)
    The Stone Killer (8-Aug-1973)
    The Mechanic (17-Nov-1972)
    Chato's Land (7-Jun-1972)
    The Valachi Papers (6-Jan-1972) · Joe Valachi
    Someone Behind the Door (8-Dec-1971)
    Red Sun (15-Sep-1971)
    Cold Sweat (18-Dec-1970)
    The Family (17-Sep-1970)
    You Can't Win 'Em All (24-Jul-1970)
    Lola (6-Jan-1970)
    Rider on the Rain (1969)
    Once Upon a Time in the West (21-Dec-1968) · Harmonica
    Farewell, Friend (14-Aug-1968)
    Villa Rides (17-Jul-1968)
    Guns for San Sebastian (20-Mar-1968)
    The Dirty Dozen (15-Jun-1967) · Joseph Wladislaw
    This Property Is Condemned (3-Aug-1966)
    Battle of the Bulge (16-Dec-1965) · Wolenski
    The Sandpiper (23-Jun-1965) · Cos Erickson
    Guns of Diablo (1964) · Linc Murdock
    4 for Texas (18-Dec-1963) · Matson
    The Great Escape (4-Jul-1963) · Danny
    Kid Galahad (11-Aug-1962) · Lew Nyack
    X-15 (22-Dec-1961)
    A Thunder of Drums (26-Sep-1961) · Pvt. Hanna
    Master of the World (11-Sep-1961) · Strock
    The Magnificent Seven (23-Oct-1960) · O'Reilly
    Never So Few (7-Dec-1959) · Sgt. John Danforth
    Machine Gun Kelly (13-Feb-1959) · Machine Gun Kelly
    Gang War (Jul-1958)
    Showdown at Boot Hill (1-May-1958)
    Run of the Arrow (2-Aug-1957) · Blue Buffalo
    Jubal (6-Apr-1956) · Reb Haislipp
    Target Zero (15-Nov-1955)
    Big House, U.S.A. (3-Mar-1955) · Benny Kelly
    Vera Cruz (25-Dec-1954)
    Drum Beat (17-Nov-1954) · Capt. Jack
    Apache (9-Jul-1954) · Hondo
    Riding Shotgun (1-Apr-1954) · Pinto
    Tennessee Champ (25-Feb-1954)
    Crime Wave (12-Jan-1954) · Ben Hastings
    Miss Sadie Thompson (23-Dec-1953) · Edwards
    House of Wax (10-Apr-1953) · Igor
    Pat and Mike (13-Jun-1952) · Hank Tasling
    My Six Convicts (12-Mar-1952) · Jocko


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