Charles Bronson facts for kids
at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival
Charles Dennis Buchinsky
November 3, 1921
|Died||August 30, 2003
|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; Lithuanian: Karolis Dionyzas Bučinskis; November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was an American 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. He had long collaborations with film directors Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson. In 1965, he was featured as Major Wolenski in Battle of the Bulge.
Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky, the 11th of 15 children, in a Roman Catholic family of Lithuanian descent in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
His father, Valteris P. Bučinskis (who later adjusted his name to Walter Buchinsky to sound more "American"), hailed from the town of Druskininkai in southern Lithuania. Bronson's mother, Mary (Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. His father had Lipka Tatar roots.
Bronson learned to speak English when he was a teenager; before that, he spoke Lithuanian and Russian.
Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died and he went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine. He later said he earned one dollar 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 had to wear his sister's dress to school for lack of clothing.
World War II service
In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress aerial gunner with the Guam-based 61st Bombardment Squadron within the 39th Bombardment Group, which conducted combat missions against the Japanese home islands. He flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle.
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". He also had a part credited as Charles Buchinsky in a western named Riding Shotgun, starring Randolph Scott. In 1954, Bronson made a strong impact in Drum Beat as a murderous Modoc warrior, Captain Jack, who relishes wearing the tunics of soldiers he has killed. 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 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. and played a killer named Crego in Gunsmoke (1956). 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 after the series was renamed U.S. Marshal.
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 1957, Bronson was cast in the Western series Colt .45 as an outlaw named Danny Arnold in the episode "Young Gun". He scored the lead in his own ABC's detective series Man with a Camera (1958–1960), in which he portrayed Mike Kovac, a former combat photographer freelancing in New York City.
In 1959, he played Steve Ogrodowski, a naval intelligence officer, in two episodes of the CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper, and he played Rogue Donovan, an escaped murderer in Yancy Derringer (episode: "Hell and High Water"). Bronson starred alongside Elizabeth Montgomery in a Twilight Zone episode ("Two"; 1961). He appeared in five episodes of Richard Boone's Have Gun – Will Travel (1957–63). In 1958, he was cast in his first lead film role in Roger Corman's Machine-Gun Kelly, followed by the lead role in the World War II film When Hell Broke Loose later the same year.
Bronson's health deteriorated in his later years, and he retired from acting after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in August 1998. Bronson died at age 81 on August 30, 2003 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Although pneumonia and/or Alzheimer's disease have been cited as his cause of death, in fact neither appears on his death certificate, which cites "respiratory failure", "metastatic lung cancer", with, secondarily, "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" and "congestive cardiomyopathy" as the causes of death. He was interred at Brownsville Cemetery in West Windsor, Vermont.
|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, a.k.a. "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, a.k.a. 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 a.k.a. 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||Mike Kovac||William A. Seiter||Crime Drama|
|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|
|Showdown at Boot Hill||Luke Welsh||Gene Fowler, Jr.||Western|
|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||Flt. Lt. Danny Velinski, "The 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||Maj. Wolenski||Ken Annakin||War|
|The Bull of the West||Ben Justin||Jerry Hopper/Paul Stanley||Western|
|1966||This Property Is Condemned||J.J. Nichols||Sydney Pollack||Drama|
|The Meanest Men in the West||Charles S. Dubin||Harge Talbot Jr.||Western|
|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|
|1968||Guns for San Sebastian||Teclo||Henri Verneuil||Western|
|1969||Twinky (a.k.a. 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 Dorsey||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||Western adventure|
|1982||Death Wish II||Paul Kersey||Michael Winner||Crime drama|
|1983||10 to Midnight||Leo Kessler||J. Lee Thompson||Crime thriller|
|1984||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||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|
Images for kids
Bronson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Charles Bronson Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.