Publicity photo, 1966
|Born||Charles Dennis Buchinsky
November 3, 1921
Ehrenfeld, Cambria County
|Died||August 30, 2003
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Cause of death||Pneumonia
|Spouse(s)||Harriet Tendler (1949–67; divorced)
Jill Ireland (1968–90; her death)
Kim Weeks (1998–2003; his death)
Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky; November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was an American film and television actor.
He starred in films such as Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, Rider on the Rain, The Mechanic, and the Death Wish series. He was often cast in the role of a police officer, gunfighter, or vigilante in revenge-oriented plot lines. During his career, Bronson had long-term partnerships with directors Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson.
Early life and World War II service 
Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. During the McCarthy hearings, he changed his last name to Bronson, fearing that Buchinsky sounded "too Russian"; the name was taken from Bronson Avenue in Hollywood, where the famous gated entrance to Paramount Pictures is located.
He was one of fifteen children born to a Polish-Lithuanian immigrant father, and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Buchinsky, hailed from the town of Druskininkai (or Druskieniki). His mother, Mary (Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania.
Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. As a young child, Bronson did not initially know how to speak English and only learned the language while in his teens. Bronson's father died when the son was only ten. Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine itself. He earned $1 for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that, at one time, he reportedly had to wear his sister's dress to school because of his lack of clothing.
In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.
Acting career 
Early roles, 1951–1959 
After the end of World War II, Bronson worked at many odd jobs until joining a theatrical group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He later shared an apartment in New York City with Jack Klugman while both were aspiring to play on the stage. In 1950, he married and moved to Hollywood, where he enrolled in acting classes and began to find small roles. Bronson's first film role — an uncredited one — was as a sailor in You're in the Navy Now in 1951. Other early screen appearances were in Pat and Mike, Miss Sadie Thompson and House of Wax (as Vincent Price's mute henchman Igor).
In 1952, Bronson boxed in a ring with Roy Rogers in Rogers' show Knockout. He appeared on an episode of The Red Skelton Show as a boxer in a skit with Skelton playing "Cauliflower McPugg". In 1954, Bronson made a strong impact in Drum Beat as a murderous Modoc warrior, Captain Jack, who relishes in wearing the tunics of soldiers whom he has killed. Eventually captured by Alan Ladd's character, he is sent to the gallows.
In 1954, during the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) proceedings, he changed his surname from Buchinsky to Bronson at the suggestion of his agent, who feared that an Eastern European surname might damage his career. He took his inspiration from the Bronson Gate at Paramount Studios, situated on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Bronson Street.
Bronson made several appearances on television in the 1950s and 1960s, including a 1952 segment, with fellow guest star Lee Marvin, of Biff Baker, U.S.A., an espionage series on CBS starring Alan Hale, Jr.. Bronson had the lead role of the episode "The Apache Kid" of the syndicated crime drama Sheriff of Cochise, starring John Bromfield; Bronson was subsequently cast twice in 1959 in the successor Bromfield series, U.S. Marshal. He also appeared with David Janssen in an episode of the crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective.
He guest-starred in the short-lived CBS situation comedy, Hey, Jeannie! and in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: And So Died Riabouchinska (1956), There Was an Old Woman (1956), and The Woman Who Wanted to Live (1962). In 1959, he played Steve Ogrodowski, a naval intelligence officer, in two episodes of the CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper.
Bronson starred alongside Elizabeth Montgomery in The Twilight Zone episode "Two" (1961) and played a killer named Crego in Gunsmoke (1956). He appeared in five episodes of Richard Boone's Have Gun - Will Travel (1957–1963).
In 1957, Bronson was cast in the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45 in the role of the outlaw Danny Arnold in the episode "Young Gun". In the story line, young Jimmy Benedict, played by Peter Brown, seeks to gain a name for himself by waging a gunfight with Arnold.
Many of Bronson's filmographies state that he appeared in the 1958 Gary Cooper film Ten North Frederick, although this is a matter of some dispute. In 1958, he was cast in his first lead role in Roger Corman's Machine-Gun Kelly, a low-budget, though well received, gangster film.
He scored the lead in his own ABC's detective series Man with a Camera (from 1958 to 1960), in which he portrayed Mike Kovac, a former combat photographer freelancing in New York City. Frequently, Kovac was involved in dangerous assignments for the New York Police Department.
Success, 1960–1968 
Bronson was cast with Ray Teal, William Fawcett, and Stella Stevens in the 1960 episode "Zigzag" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin.That same year, he was cast on ABC's The Islanders as Dutch Malkin in the 1960 episode "The Generous Politician". In 1960, he also gained attention through his role in John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven, in which he was cast as one of seven gunfighters taking up the cause of the defenseless. During filming, Bronson was a loner who kept to himself, according to Eli Wallach. He received $50,000 for this role. This role made him a favorite actor of many in the since disbanded Soviet Union, such as Vladimir Vysotsky.
Two years later, Sturges cast him for another Hollywood production, The Great Escape, as a claustrophobic Polish prisoner of war nicknamed "The Tunnel King" (coincidentally, Bronson was really claustrophobic because of his childhood work in a mine). In 1961, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his supporting role in an episode entitled "Memory in White" of CBS's General Electric Theater, hosted by Ronald W. Reagan.
In the 1963–1964 television season he portrayed Linc, the stubborn wagonmaster in the ABC western series, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, in which he starred with Dan O'Herlihy and then twelve-year-old Kurt Russell. In the 1965-1966 season, he guest-starred in an episode of The Legend of Jesse James, starring Christopher Jones in the title role of the bandit Jesse James.
In 1965, Bronson was cast as a demolitions expert in an episode of ABC's Combat! war drama. Thereafter, in The Dirty Dozen (1967), he played an Army death row convict conscripted into a suicide mission. In 1967, he portrayed Ralph Schuyler in the episode "The One That Got Away" on ABC's The Fugitive. He guest starred in 1964 on NBC's Bonanza.
European roles and rise with United Artists, 1968–1973 
Bronson made a serious name for himself in European films. In 1968, he starred as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West. The director, Sergio Leone, once called him "the greatest actor I ever worked with", and had wanted to cast Bronson for the lead in 1964's A Fistful of Dollars. Bronson turned him down and the role instead launched Clint Eastwood to film stardom.
Even though he was not yet a headliner in America in 1970, he helped the French film Rider on the Rain win a Hollywood Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The following year, this overseas fame earned him a special Golden Globe Henrietta Award for "World Film Favorite - Male" together with Sean Connery. In 1972 he began a string of successful action films for United Artists, beginning with Chato's Land, although he had done several films for UA before this in the 1960s (The Magnificent Seven, etc.). One film UA brought into the domestic mainstream was Città violenta (also known as The Family), an Italian-made film originally released overseas in 1970. Despite the cutting of eight minutes from the original version, it firmly established Bronson as a major star in the 1970s.
Death Wish series and departure from UA, 1974–1980 
One of Bronson's most memorable roles came when he was over the age of 50, in Death Wish (Paramount, 1974), the most popular film of his long association with director Michael Winner. He played Paul Kersey, a successful New York architect. When his wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted, Kersey becomes a crime-fighting vigilante by night. It was a highly controversial role, as his executions were cheered by crime-weary audiences. After the famous 1984 case of Bernhard Goetz, Bronson recommended that people not imitate his character. This successful movie spawned sequels over the next 20 years, in which Bronson also starred.
In 1974, he had the title role in the Elmore Leonard film adaptation Mr. Majestyk, as an army veteran and farmer who battles local gangsters. For Walter Hill's Hard Times (1975), he starred as a Depression-era street fighter making his living in illegal bare-knuckled matches in Louisiana, earning good reviews. Bronson reached his pinnacle in box-office drawing power in 1975, when he was ranked 4th, behind only Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand and Al Pacino. His stint at UA came to an end in 1977 with The White Buffalo.
Cannon Films era and final roles, 1981-1994 
He was considered to play the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981), but director John Carpenter thought he was too tough looking and too old for the part, and decided to cast Kurt Russell instead. In the years between 1976 and 1994, Bronson commanded high salaries to star in numerous films made by smaller production companies, most notably Cannon Films, for whom some of his last films were made. Many of them were directed by J. Lee Thompson, a collaborative relationship that Bronson enjoyed and actively pursued, reportedly because Thompson worked quickly and efficiently. Thompson's ultra-violent films such as The Evil That Men Do (Tri-Star, 1984) and 10 To Midnight (1983) were blasted by critics, but provided Bronson with well-paid work throughout the 1980s. Bronson's last starring role in a theatrically released film was 1994's Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
Bronson became very popular in Japan in the early 1990s with the bushy eyebrowed TV critic Nagaharu Yodogawa hosting 1-2 seasons of his films every year on NTV, one of the main TV channels in Japan.
Personal life 
His first marriage was to Harriet Tendler, whom he met when both were fledgling actors in Philadelphia. They had two children before divorcing in 1965. She writes in her memoir "She was was an 18-year-old virgin when she met the 26-year-old Charlie Buchinsky at a Philadelphia acting school in 1947. Two years later, with the grudging consent of her father, a successful, Jewish dairy farmer, she wed the Catholic Lithuanian and former coal miner; supporting them both while Charlie pursued their acting dream. On their first date, he had four cents in his pocket – and went on, now as Charles Bronson, to become one of the highest paid actors in the country."
Bronson was then married again to British actress Jill Ireland from October 5, 1968, until her death from breast cancer at age 54 in 1990. He had met her in 1962, when she was married to Scottish actor David McCallum. At the time, Bronson (who shared the screen with McCallum in The Great Escape) reportedly told him, "I'm going to marry your wife". The Bronsons lived in a grand Bel Air mansion in Los Angeles with seven children: two by his previous marriage, three by hers (one of whom was adopted) and two of their own (another one of whom was adopted). After they married, she often played his leading lady, and they starred in fourteen films together.
In order to maintain a close family, they would load up everyone and take them to wherever filming was taking place, so that they could all be together. They spent time in a colonial farmhouse on 260 acres (1.1 km2) in West Windsor, Vermont. Jill Ireland raised horses and provided training for their daughter Zuleika so that she could perform at the higher levels of horse showing. The Vermont farm, "Zuleika Farm", was named for the only natural child between them. During the late 1980s through the mid-1990s Bronson regularly spent winter holidays vacationing with his family in Snowmass, Colorado.
In December 1998, Bronson was married a third time to Kim Weeks, a former employee of Dove Audio who had helped record Ireland in the production of her audiobooks. The couple were married for five years until Bronson's death.
Bronson's health deteriorated in later years, and he retired from acting after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in 1998. He also suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his final years. Bronson died of pneumonia at the age of 81 on August 30, 2003, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is buried near his Vermont farm.
|1951||The Mob||Jack - Longshoreman (uncredited)||Robert Parrish||Crime thriller|
|The People Against O'Hara||Angelo Korvac (uncredited)||John Sturges||Crime drama|
|You're in the Navy Now||Wascylewski (uncredited)||Henry Hathaway||War comedy|
|1952||Bloodhound of Broadway||Phil Green, aka 'Pittsburgh Philo' (uncredited)||Harmon Jones||Musical|
|Battle Zone||Private (uncredited)||Lesley Selander||War|
|Pat and Mike||Henry 'Hank' Tasling (as Charles Buchinski)||George Cukor||Comedy|
|Diplomatic Courier||Russian Agent (uncredited)||Henry Hathaway||Mystery thriller|
|My Six Convicts||Jocko (as Charles Buchinsky)||Hugo Fregonese||Comedy drama|
|The Marrying Kind||Eddie - Co-Worker at Plant (uncredited)||George Cukor||Comedy drama|
|Red Skies of Montana||Neff (uncredited)||Joseph M. Newman||Adventure|
|1953||Miss Sadie Thompson||Pvt. Edwards (as Charles Buchinsky)||Curtis Bernhardt||Musical|
|House of Wax||Igor (as Charles Buchinsky)||André de Toth||Horror|
|Off Limits||Russell (uncredited)||George Marshall||Comedy|
|The Clown||Eddie, Dice Player (uncredited)||Robert Z. Leonard||Drama|
|Torpedo Alley||Submariner (uncredited)||Lew Landers||Drama|
|1954||Vera Cruz||Pittsburgh||Robert Aldrich||Western|
|Drum Beat||Kintpuash, aka Captain Jack||Delmer Daves||Western|
|Apache||Hondo (as Charles Buchinsky)||Robert Aldrich||Western|
|Riding Shotgun||Pinto (as Charles Buchinsky)||André de Toth||Western|
|Tennessee Champ||Sixty Jubel aka The Biloxi Blockbuster (as Charles Buchinsky)||Fred M. Wilcox||B-movie drama|
|Crime Wave||Ben Hastings (as Charles Buchinsky)||André de Toth||Crime drama|
|1955||Target Zero||Sgt. Vince Gaspari||Harmon Jones||War drama|
|Big House, U.S.A.||Benny Kelly||Howard W. Koch||Crime thriller|
|1956||Jubal||Reb Haislipp||Delmer Daves||Western|
|Man With A Camera||Reese||William A. Seiter||Comedy|
|1957||Run of the Arrow||Blue Buffalo||Samuel Fuller||Western|
|1958||Gang War||Alan Avery||Gene Fowler Jr.||Drama|
|When Hell Broke Loose||Steve Boland||Kenneth G. Crane||War|
|Machine-Gun Kelly||Machine Gun Kelly||Roger Corman||Crime biography|
|1959||Never So Few||Sgt. John Danforth||John Sturges||War|
|1960||The Magnificent Seven||Bernardo O'Reilly||John Sturges||Western|
|1961||Master of the World||John Strock||William Witney||Sci-fi|
|A Thunder of Drums||Trooper Hanna||Joseph M. Newman||Western|
|1962||X-15||Lt. Col. Lee Brandon||Richard Donner||Aviation drama|
|Kid Galahad||Lew Nyack||Phil Karlson||Musical|
|1963||The Great Escape||Danny Tunnel King||John Sturges||War|
|4 for Texas||Matson||Robert Aldrich||Western comedy|
|1965||Guns of Diablo||Linc Murdock||Boris Sagal||Western|
|The Sandpiper||Cos Erickson||Vincente Minnelli||Drama|
|Battle of the Bulge||Wolenski||Ken Annakin||War|
|1966||This Property Is Condemned||J.J. Nichols||Sydney Pollack||Drama|
|1967||The Dirty Dozen||Joseph Wladislaw||Robert Aldrich||War|
|1968||Farewell, Friend||Franz Propp||Jean Herman||Crime adventure|
|Villa Rides||Rodolfo Fierro||Buzz Kulik||War|
|Once Upon a Time in the West||Harmonica||Sergio Leone||Western|
|1969||Lola||Scott Wardman||Richard Donner||Comedy romance|
|You Can't Win 'Em All||Josh Corey||Peter Collinson||War|
|1970||Rider on the Rain||Col. Harry Dobbs||René Clément||Mystery thriller|
|Violent City||Jeff Heston||Sergio Sollima||Thriller|
|1971||Cold Sweat||Joe Martin||Terence Young||Thriller|
|Someone Behind the Door||The Stranger||Nicolas Gessner||Crime drama|
|Red Sun||Link Stuart||Terence Young||Western|
|1972||The Valachi Papers||Joe Valachi||Terence Young||Crime|
|Chato's Land||Pardon Chato||Michael Winner||Western|
|The Mechanic||Arthur Bishop||Michael Winner||Thriller|
|1973||The Stone Killer||Lou Torrey||Michael Winner||Crime drama|
|Chino||Chino Valdez||John Sturges, Duilio Coletti||Western|
|1974||Mr. Majestyk||Vince Majestyk||Richard Fleischer||Crime drama|
|Death Wish||Paul Kersey||Michael Winner||Crime thriller|
|1975||Breakheart Pass||Deakin||Tom Gries||Western adventure|
|Breakout||Nick Colton||Tom Gries||Adventure drama|
|Hard Times||Chaney||Walter Hill||Drama|
|1976||From Noon Till Three||Graham||Frank D. Gilroy||Western comedy|
|St. Ives||Raymond St Ives||J. Lee Thompson||Crime drama|
|1977||Raid on Entebbe||Brig. Gen. Dan Shomron||Irvin Kershner||Drama|
|The White Buffalo||Wild Bill Hickok (James Otis)||J. Lee Thompson||Western|
|1978||Telefon||Major Grigori Bortsov||Don Siegel||Spy|
|1979||Love and Bullets||Charlie Congers||Stuart Rosenberg||Crime drama|
|1980||Borderline||Jeb Maynard||Jerrold Freedman||Drama|
|Caboblanco||Gifford Hoyt||J. Lee Thompson||Drama|
|1981||Death Hunt||Albert Johnson||Peter R. Hunt||Crime adventure|
|1982||Death Wish II||Paul Kersey||Michael Winner||Crime drama|
|1983||10 to Midnight||Leo Kessler||J. Lee Thompson||Crime thriller|
|The Evil That Men Do||Holland / Bart Smith||J. Lee Thompson||Thriller|
|1985||Death Wish 3||Paul Kersey||Michael Winner||Crime drama|
|1986||Murphy's Law||Jack Murphy||J. Lee Thompson||Thriller|
|Act of Vengeance||"Jock" Yablonski||John Mackenzie||Crime drama|
|1987||Assassination||Jay Killion||Peter R. Hunt||Thriller|
|Death Wish 4: The Crackdown||Paul Kersey||J. Lee Thompson||Crime drama|
|1988||Messenger of Death||Garret Smith||J. Lee Thompson||Crime thriller|
|1989||Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects||Lieutenant Crowe||J. Lee Thompson||Drama|
|1991||The Indian Runner||Mr. Roberts||Sean Penn||Drama|
|Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus||Francis Church||Charles Jarrott||Drama|
|1993||The Sea Wolf||Capt. Wolf Larsen||Michael Anderson||Adventure|
|Donato and Daughter||Sgt. Mike Donato||Rod Holcomb||Drama|
|1994||Death Wish V: The Face of Death||Paul Kersey||Allan A. Goldstein||Thriller|
|1995||A Family of Cops||Paul Fein||Ted Kotcheff||Thriller|
|1997||Family of Cops 2||Paul Fein||David Greene||Crime drama|
|1999||Family of Cops 3||Paul Fein||Sheldon Larry||Drama|
See also 
- Bronson profile at Google!
- Michael, Pitts (1999). Charles Bronson. McFarland. p. 1. ISBN 0-7864-0601-1.
- Aaker, Everet (2006). Encyclopedia of early television crime fighters: all regular cast members in American crime and mystery series, 1948-1959. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 0-7864-2476-1.
- "Charles Bronson, Actor". Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- "Hollywood star Bronson dies". BBC News. September 1, 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- "Action film star Charles Bronson dead at 81". USA Today. 2003-08-31. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- "US movie legend Bronson is dead". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 2003-09-01. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- Richard Severo (September 1, 2003). "Charles Bronson, 81, Dies; Muscular Movie Tough Guy". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
- The dress story has been repeated in Celebrity Setbacks: 800 Stars who Overcame the Odds by Ed Lucaire (ISBN 0-671-85031-8) and in an edition of Ripley's Believe It or Not!.
- "Corrections". nytimes.com. September 18, 2003. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
- Charles Bronson (I) - Biography IMDb
- "[[Colt .45(TV series)|Colt .45]]". ctva.biz. Retrieved December 22, 2012. Wikilink embedded in URL title (help)
- ""Zigzag", next-to-the last episode, December 26, 1960". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- Exclusive interview with Eli Wallach
- Howard Hughes "Stagecoach to tombstone: the filmgoers' guide to the great westerns". Published by: I.B.Tauris, 2008 - 274 p. ISBN 1-84511-571-6, ISBN 978-1-84511-571-5 (p. 125)
- Владимир Иванович Новиков/V.I. Novikov "Высоцкий/Vysotskiĭ". Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 2002 - 412 с. ISBN 5-235-02541-5, ISBN 978-5-235-02541-7 (С.327)
- (Russian)"Живая жизнь/Živaja žiznʹ : štrichi k biografii Vladimira Vysockogo". Moscow: "Московский рабочий/Moskovskij rabočij", т. 1 - 1988 - 316 c. ISBN 5-239-00483-8, ISBN 978-5-239-00483-8 (C.217)
- Hughes, Howard (2006). Filmgoers' guide to the great crime movies. I.B.Tauris. p. xx. ISBN 1-84511-219-9.
- Charles Bronson Documentary, Biography Channel.
- "Action film star Charles Bronson dead at 81". USA Today. 2003-09-01. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Yarrow, Andrew L. (1990-05-19). "Jill Ireland, Actress, 54, Is Dead; Wrote of Her Fight With Cancer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Charles Bronson|
- Charles Bronson at the Internet Movie Database
- Charles Bronson at AllRovi
- Japanese fansite
- The Best Battles of Charles Bronson Photo gallery at AMCtv.com