Famous Birthday's: Charles Bronson
Born: November 3, 1921. Died: August 30, 2003 (Aged 81).
"I don't look like someone who leans on a mantelpiece with a cocktail in my hand, you know”.
1921: Charles Dennis Buchinsky was born on November 3, 1921 in Pennsylvania, USA the 11th of 15 children. He was an American actor was often cast in the role of a police officer, gunfighter, or vigilante in revenge-oriented plot lines. He had long-term collaborations with film directors Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson, and appeared in many films alongside his second wife, Jill Ireland.
1931: 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.
1943: Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron and later in 1945 to 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.
1946: 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.
1949: He married Harriet Tendler and they had two children before divorcing in 1965. Tendler supported them both while she and Charlie pursued their acting dreams.
1950: He moved to Hollywood, where he enrolled in acting classes and began to find small roles.
1951: Bronson's first film role - an uncredited one - was as a sailor in You're in the Navy Now, directed by Henry Hathaway. Other early screen appearances were in The Mob; The People Against O'Hara.
1952: He starred in Bloodhounds of Broadway this year, as well as Battle Zone; Pat and Mike, as a boxer and mob enforcer; Diplomatic Courier, another for Hathaway; My Six Convicts; The Marrying Kind; and Red Skies of Montana.
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 appeared with fellow guest star Lee Marvin in an episode of Biff Baker, USA an espionage series on CBS starring Alan Hale, Jr.
1953: He had small roles in Miss Sadie Thompson; House of Wax, directed by Andre DeToth; The Clown; Torpedo Alley; and Riding Shotgun, starring Randolph Scott, directed by DeToth again.
1954: Bronson had a notable support part as an Indian in Apache for director Robert Aldrich who then used him again in Vera Cruz. Bronson then made a strong impact as the main villain in the Alan Ladd western Drum Beat as a murderous Modoc warrior, Captain Jack (based on a real person), who relishes wearing the tunics of soldiers he has killed.
He also had roles in Tennessee Champ for MGM, and Crime Wave. 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.
1955: As "Charles Bronson”, he could be seen in Target Zero and Big House, USA this year and Jubal in 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 and There Was an Old Woman.
1957: Bronson was cast in the Western series Colt .45 as an outlaw named Danny Arnold in the episode "Young Gun”. He also had a support role in Sam Fuller's Run of the Arrow.
1958: He was cast in leading man roles in some low budget films, notably, Machine-Gun Kelly, a biopic of a real life gangster directed by Roger Corman. He also starred in Gang War, When Hell Broke Loose , and Showdown at Boot Hill in 1959.
On television, 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.
1959: Bronson had a support role in an expensive war film, Never So Few, directed by John Sturges.
1960: Bronson was cast in the episode of "Zigzag” of Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. That same year, he was cast as "Dutch Malkin” in the episode of "The Generous Politician” of The Islanders. He garnered attention 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 favourite actor of many in the since disbanded Soviet Union, such as Vladimir Vysotsky.
1961: Bronson starred alongside Elizabeth Montgomery in a Twilight Zone episode (”Two”). He appeared in five episodes of Richard Boone's Have Gun - Will Travel (1957-1963). Bronson was the romantic lead of Master of the World, supporting Vincent Price. He had a support role in MGM's A Thunder of Drums but a bigger part in X-15.
1963: Sturges cast Bronson for another Hollywood production, The Great Escape, as claustrophobic Polish prisoner of war Flight Lieutenant Danny Velinski, nicknamed "The Tunnel King” (coincidentally, Bronson was really claustrophobic because of his childhood work in a mine). The film was a huge hit and Bronson had one of the leads, but he still found himself playing a villain in 4 for Texas for Robert Aldrich.
1965: Bronson was cast as a demolitions expert in an episode of ABC's Combat! He had a relatively minor role in Battle of the Bulge.Bronson had the lead in Guns of Diablo, a Western. In the 1965-1966 season, he guest-starred in an episode of The Legend of Jesse James.
1966: He was billed fourth in MGM's The Sandpiper, which the popularity of stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor propelled to a big success. He was billed third in This Property Is Condemned.
1967: He guest-starred as Ralph Schuyler, an undercover government agent in the episode "The One That Got Away” on ABC's The Fugitive. That year Aldrich gave Bronson an excellent role in The Dirty Dozen, where he played an Army death row convict conscripted into a suicide mission. It was a massive box office success but Bronson was only the third lead.
1968: In Villa Rides he supported Robert Mitchum and Yul Brynner, playing the real-life Rodolfo Fierro. He starred in Once Upon a Time in the West where Bronson played Harmonica. 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 launched Clint Eastwood to film stardom. The film was the biggest hit of 1969 in France.
Bronson was married to English actress Jill Ireland from October 5, until her death 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.
Bronson appeared in a French action film, Guns for San Sebastian alongside Anthony Quinn.
1969: In Britain, he was cast in the lead of Lola, playing a middle-aged man in love with a 16-year-old girl.
1970: He then made a buddy comedy with Tony Curtis in Turkey, You Can't Win 'Em All.
1973: Bronson's most famous role came when he was age 52, in Death Wish, the most popular film with director Michael Winner. He played Paul Kersey, a successful New York architect who turns into a crime-fighting vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted. This movie spawned four sequels over the next two decades, all starring Bronson.
1976: He did a Western comedy, From Noon till Three but it was not well received. At Warner Bros he made St. Ives, his first film with director J. Lee Thompson. He played Dan Shomron in Raid on Entebbe, then was reunited with Thompson in The White Buffalo, produced by Dino de Laurentiis.
1978: Bronson auditioned for the role of Superman for the 1978 film adaptation, but producer Ilya Salkind turned him down for being too earthy and decided to cast Christopher Reeve.
1980: He was reunited with Thompson on Caboblanco, and also starrred in Borderline.
1981: Played Albert Johnson in Death Hunt, opposite Lee Marvin.
1990: On May 18, aged 54, after a long battle with breast cancer, Jill Ireland died of the disease at their home in Malib, California.
1991: Bronson's first non action film in a long time was The Indian Runner, directed by Sean Penn. He followed this with some TV movies, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and The Sea Wolf in 1993.
1994: Bronson's last starring role in a theatrically released film was 1994's Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
1998: Bronson's health deteriorated in his later years, and he retired from acting after undergoing hip-replacement surgery in August 1998. In December, Bronson was married for 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 in 2003.
His final films were the TV movies Family of Cops in 1995, Breach of Faith: A Family of Cops 2 in 1997 and Family of Cops 3 in 1999.
2003: 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, 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.
- Bronson learned to speak English when he was a teenager; before that, he spoke Lithuanian and Russian.
- He was the first member of his family to graduate from high school.
- 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.
- He was considered for the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York in 1981, but director John Carpenter thought he was too tough looking and too old for the part, and decided to cast Kurt Russell instead.
- Bronson was paid $1.5 million to star in Death Wish II in 1982.