August 31, 2003 by

Charles Bronson

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Categories: Actors

cbronson.jpgCharles Bronson, the popular action star noted for his “Death Wish” movies, died on Aug. 30 from pneumonia. He was 81.
Bronson was born Charles Bunchinsky in 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pa., the 11th of 15 children. As a teenager, he joined his brothers in the coal mines, earning $1 for every ton of coal he dug. He was drafted into the service during World War II, and served as a B29 tail gunner in the Pacific.
When he returned from the war, Bronson longed to avoid the poverty he suffered as a child. He decided acting would be a lucrative career and used the G.I. Bill to study at the Pasadena Playhouse school in California. Studio scouts saw him perform and immediately cast him in the 1951 movie, “You’re in the Navy Now”; it lead to supporting roles in other films, including “Red Skies of Montana” and “Pat and Mike,” starring Katharine Hepburn.
During the anti-communist McCarthy era, Charles changed his last name in order to avoid governmental prosecution for having a Russian-sounding name. Under the new marquee moniker, Bronson gave memorable performances in numerous films, including “Kid Galahad,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
Bronson moved to Europe in 1968 to take lead roles in French, Italian and Spanish films. He was hugely popular overseas and in 1971 was presented with a Golden Globe for being “the most popular actor in the world.”
When he moved back to Hollywood, the 53-year-old landed the role of Paul Kersey in the movie, “Death Wish.” The film was a box office smash, lead to four sequels and gave Bronson $1 million per picture status.
IMDb Filmography

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