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Old 08-31-2003, 10:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
KeyserSoze's Avatar
Location: Lost Angeles
Charles Bronson R.I.P.

LOS ANGELES - Charles Bronson (news), the Pennsylvania coal miner who drifted into films as a villain and became a hard-faced action star, notably in the popular "Death Wish" vengeance movies, has died. He was 81.

Bronson died Saturday of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife at his bedside, publicist Lori Jonas said. He had been in the hospital for weeks, Jonas said.

During the height of his career, Bronson was hugely popular in Europe; the French knew him as "le sacre monstre" (the sacred monster), the Italians as "Il Brutto" (the ugly man). In 1971, he was presented a Golden Globe as "the most popular actor in the world."

Like Clint Eastwood (news), whose spaghetti westerns won him stardom, Bronson had to make European films to prove his worth as a star. He left a featured-role career in Hollywood to play leads in films made in France, Italy and Spain. His blunt manner, powerful build and air of danger made him the most popular actor in those countries.

At age 50, he returned to Hollywood a star.

In a 1971 interview, he theorized on why the journey had taken him so long:

"Maybe I'm too masculine. Casting directors cast in their own, or an idealized image. Maybe I don't look like anybody's ideal."

His early life gave no indication of his later fame. He was born Charles Buchinsky on Nov. 3, 1921 not 1922, as studio biographies claimed in Ehrenfeld, Pa. He was the 11th of 15 children of a coal miner and his wife, both Lithuanian immigrants.

Young Charles learned the art of survival in the tough district of Scooptown, "where you had nothing to lose because you lost it already." The Buchinskys lived crowded in a shack, the children wearing hand-me-downs from older siblings. At the age of 6, Charles was embarrassed to attend school in his sister's dress.

Charles' father died when he was 10, and at 16 Charles followed his brothers into the mines. He was paid $1 per ton of coal and volunteered for perilous jobs because the pay was better. Like other toughs in Scooptown, he raised some hell and landed in jail for assault and robbery.

He might have stayed in the mines for the rest of his life except for World War II.

Drafted in 1943, he served with the Air Force in the Pacific, reportedly as a tail gunner on a B29. Having seen the outside world, he vowed not to return to the squalor of Scooptown.

He was attracted to acting not, he claimed, because of any artistic urge; he was impressed by the money movie stars could earn. He joined the Philadelphia Play and Players Troupe, painting scenery and acting a few minor roles.

At the Pasadena Playhouse school, Bronson improved his diction, supporting himself by selling Christmas cards and toys on street corners. Studio scouts saw him at the Playhouse and he was cast as a gob in the 1951 service comedy "You're in the Navy Now" starring Gary Cooper (news).

As Charles Buchinsky or Buchinski, he played supporting roles in "Red Skies of Montana," "The Marrying Kind," "Pat and Mike" (in which he fell victim to Katharine Hepburn (news)'s judo), "The House of Wax," "Jubal" and other films. In 1954 he changed his last name, fearing reaction in the McCarthy era to Russian-sounding names.

Bronson's first starring role came in 1958 with an eight-day exploitation film, "Machine Gun Kelly." He also appeared in two brief TV series, "Man with a Camera" (1958) and "The Travels of Jamie McPheeters" (1963).

His status grew with impressive performances in "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape," "The Battle of the Bulge," "The Sandpiper" and "The Dirty Dozen." But real stardom eluded him, his rough-hewn face and brusque manner not fitting the Hollywood tradition for leading men.

Alain Delon (news), like many French, had admired "Machine Gun Kelly," and he invited Bronson to co-star with him in a British-French film, "Adieu, L'Ami" ("Farewell, Friend"). It made Bronson a European favorite.

Among his films abroad was a hit spaghetti western, "Once Upon a Time in the West." Finally Hollywood took notice.

Among his starring films: "The Valachi Papers," "Chato's Land," "The Mechanic," "Valdez," "The Stone Killer," "Mr. Majestyk," "Breakout," "Hard Times," "Breakout Pass," "White Buffalo," "Telefon," "Love and Bullets," "Death Hunt," "Assassination," "Messenger of Death."

The titles indicate the nature of the films: lots of action, shooting, dead bodies. They were made on medium-size budgets, but Bronson was earning $1 million a picture before it was fashionable.

His most controversial film came in 1974 with "Death Wish." As an affluent, liberal architect, Bronson's life is shattered when young thugs kill his wife and rape his daughter. He vows to rid the city of such vermin, and his executions brought cheers from crime-weary audiences.

The character's vigilantism brought widespread criticism, but "Death Wish" became one of the big moneymakers of the year. The controversy accelerated when Bernard Goetz shot youths he thought were threatening him in a New York subway.

Bronson made three more "Death Wish" films, and in 1987 he defended them:

"I think they provide satisfaction for people who are victimized by crime and look in vain for authorities to protect them. But I don't think people try to imitate that kind of thing."

Bronson could be as taciturn in interviews as he appeared on the screen. He remained aloof from the Hollywood scene, once observing, "I have lots of friends and yet I don't have any."

His first marriage was to Harriet Tendler, whom he met when both were fledgling actors in Philadelphia. They had two children before divorcing.

In 1966 Bronson fell in love with the lovely blonde British actress Jill Ireland, who happened to be married to British actor David McCallum (news). Bronson reportedly told McCallum bluntly: "I'm going to marry your wife."

The McCallums were divorced in 1967, and Bronson and Ireland married the following year. She co-starred in several of his films.

The Bronsons lived in a grand Bel Air mansion with seven children: two by his previous marriage, three by hers and two of their own. They also spent time in a colonial farmhouse on 260 acres in West Windsor, Vt.

Ireland lost a breast to cancer in 1984. She became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society (news - web sites) and wrote a bestselling book, "Life Wish." She followed with "Life Lines," in which she told of her struggle to rescue her 27-year-old son, Jason McCallum Bronson, from drug addiction. He died of an overdose in 1989, and she died of cancer a year later.

Bronson is survived by his wife, Kim, six children and two grandchildren. Funeral services will be private.

My favorites of his were The Valachi Papers and The Mechanic

R.I.P Charles
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Mr.Deflok's Avatar
Location: New Zealand
CHARLES BRONSON passes away...

This from imdb.com...

Charles Bronson: 1921-2003
CNN is reporting that actor Charles Bronson, the puma-faced tough guy, best known for his early supporting roles in films such as The Magnificent Seven and the later Death Wish series, died Saturday (8/30) of complications from pneumonia in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81. Bronson was one of fifteen children growing up in Philadelphia and seemed destined to join his Lithuanian father and brothers as a coal-miner until World War II broke out. After the war, Bronson used his G.I. Bill to study acting. He played henchman in several films which included one of his few comedic turns as an enforcer who gets beaten up by Katharine Hepburn in Pat and Mike. Bronson then gained fame as the solid team member in The Magnificent Seven, as Bernado, the gunslinger idolized by the peasants' sons, The Great Escape as Danny 'The Tunnel King' Velinski and as Joseph T. Wladislaw, one of The Dirty Dozen. Bronson had a series of films, including Adieu l'ami, which made him immensely popular in Europe in the latter part of the '60s and culminated with Once Upon a Time in the West. Marquee status in the States, however, would have to wait for Bronson until 1974's Death Wish. The vigilante film spawned four sequels of declining quality. Bronson also starred in cult favorites such as Mr. Majestyk and The White Buffalo. He was married three times, including to Jill Ireland (he shared the screen with her 16 times), from 1968 until her death in 1990 from breast cancer. He is survived by his wife, Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

I've ridiculed Bronson films at large for their cheesiness and over the top action sequences but there's no denying the fact that Bronson was THE MAN of action movies. It's truly sad to hear that he has passed away.
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
They're all slowly vanishing...
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
Location: Charlotte, NC
The Dirty Dozen was one of the best films ever. Sometimes you think that this time Jim Brown is going to make it. *lol*
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Old 09-01-2003, 03:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
With a mustache, the cool factor would be too much
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Location: left side of my couch, East Texas
To me, Bronson was the epitome of the manly Western man.

He didn't talk much, but when he did, people payed attention and watched his preciseness of movement as if mesmerized.

His movies weren't blockbusters but I would rather watch his Westerns than some of the other "newer" ones that have come out since around 1992.

He wasn't for everybody, but he did have fans. I'm proud to be one of them.

I'm sorry he passed away, but I'm glad his suffering is at an end.
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Old 09-01-2003, 04:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
a very good actor for his genre he wiill be missed.
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Old 09-01-2003, 05:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Manhattan, NY
wow... sometimes i don't get my news from the normal sources.

damn peace man....
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Old 09-01-2003, 05:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
Location: NH
Great actor, great movies...he will be missed.
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Old 09-01-2003, 05:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
No. It's not done yet.
BonesCPA's Avatar
Location: sorta kinda phila
I was/am a big fan of The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, and The Magnificient Seven. He may not have been the lead in any of these, but his characters all were likable in a "familiar" way.
Back into hibernation.
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Old 09-01-2003, 05:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: Tokyo
RIP, tough guy.
and thank you.
The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen and The Great Escape are all favourites of mine.
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Old 09-01-2003, 06:20 AM   #11 (permalink)
through charlatans phone
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Location: Northcoast
He definately set the tough-guy bar high, maybe too high for some wannabees. When he acted out a scene, he made you think that was really him. Scary tough.

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Old 09-01-2003, 06:57 AM   #12 (permalink)
Location: europe
he played in some cheasy movies
but he was perfect in "once upon a time in the west"
the man with the harmonica is my favourite western hero ever.
one of the best revenge movies ever.

anecdote : my brother in law can't recognize any actor (or movie for that matter) the only one he could recognize was charles bronson.
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Old 09-01-2003, 07:12 AM   #13 (permalink)
I am the anomaly.
Location: Motown
I heard he was 53 years of age when he did his first ' DeathWish' and received a little notoriety.
To bad , he was a better actor than the critics thought .
He will truly be missed ...
Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others.

Last edited by marcopolo; 09-01-2003 at 07:14 AM..
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Old 09-01-2003, 08:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
I was shocked and sadded by this news. He was great in Death Wish. Damn, all the good ones are dying.
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Old 09-01-2003, 10:46 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Location: On the front lines against our very enemy
Wow, this is a sad year for Hollywood man.
"This ain't no Ice Cream Social!"

"Hey Grif, Chupathingy...how bout that? I like it...got a ring to it."

"I have no earthly idea what it is I just saw, or what this place is, or where in the hell O'Malley is! My only choice is to blame Grif for coming up with such a flawed plan. Stupid, stupid Grif."
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Old 09-01-2003, 12:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
World's King's Avatar
Location: Denver City Denver
Looks like his wish finally came true.
heavy is the head that wears the crown
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:26 PM   #17 (permalink)
I and I
Location: Stillwater, OK
He was one of the best action stars out there. He would look like he could beat you up but he could look like he'd make a great buddy too. What an actor. And he was one of the only ones to survive in "The Dirty Dozen", so you know he is cool.
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Old 09-01-2003, 01:53 PM   #18 (permalink)
RIP. Awesome actor.
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Old 09-01-2003, 02:43 PM   #19 (permalink)
Location: Home.
Man, that's sad. I remember I was about 12 when I saw Dirty Dozen for the first time. He was a great actor.
You know, they just don't make actors like that anymore. It's such a shame.
Someday, someone will best me.
But it won't be today, and it won't be you.
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Old 09-01-2003, 06:39 PM   #20 (permalink)
To me, he is one of those actors who I haven't heard much about for the past few years (for obvious reasons,) who when they're gone is just kind of weird. I was never a huge fan of him, but did enjoy a lot of his stuff. So a huge wave of oddness has passed over me.
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Old 09-01-2003, 06:43 PM   #21 (permalink)
Location: Orange County, California
He played a great badass on film. RIP Charles Bronson.
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Old 09-03-2003, 01:36 AM   #22 (permalink)
Location: the bathroom
the death wish movies were terrible. But I was terrified of the white buffalo when I was a kid.
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Old 09-05-2003, 09:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
sapiens's Avatar
Location: Some place windy
Stole his friend's wife. Nice guy.

I liked him in The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and The Dirty Dozen.
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bronson, charles, rip

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