“Goodbye” Charles Bronson Died 30 August 2003
Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky November 3, 1921 – August 30, 2003) was a Lithuanian-American film and television actor.
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 Boeing B-29 Super fortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.
After the end of World War II, he had odd jobs until joining a theatrical group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He later shared an apartment in New York with Jack Klugman, who was later known for his portrayal of “Quincy”.
In 1950, he married and moved to Hollywood, where he enrolled in acting classes. His first film role was uncredited, 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.
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. At that time, fear of communism was rife in the USA and it was feared that an Eastern European surname might damage his career.
In 1960, he came to prominence for his appearance in The Magnificent Seven, for which he received $50,000.
Two years later, he appeared in The Great Escape, as a claustrophobic Polish prisoner of war nicknamed “The Tunnel King”. Another notable film of his was The Dirty Dozen(1967), in which he played an Army death row convict conscripted into a suicide mission.
One of Bronson’s most memorable roles was probably 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, who’s wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted. He then sets out to become a vigilante. This movie gave rise to various sequels over the next two decades, in all of which Bronson appeared.
His later films include The Evil That Men Do (1984) and 10 To Midnight
His final theatrical film was Death Wish V in 1994 although a few made for TV movies followed.
Bronson’s health deteriorated in later years, and he retired from acting after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in 1998. He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in his final years and died of pneumonia at age 81 on August 30, 2003.