||"I don't look like someone who leans on a mantelpiece with a cocktail in my hand."
Today we celebrate the birth of actor, Charles Bronson—born on this date in 1921. The archetypal screen tough guy with weatherbeaten
features got his start in movies with an uncredited role as a sailor in the 1951 film, You're in the Navy Now. He also appeared as
Vincent Price's mute henchman, Igor, in House of Wax (1957). However, most of his work in the 1950's and 60's was on television
series, such as Man With a Camera, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Have Gun, Will Travel, and The Travels of Jaimie
In 1960, Bronson made his name on the big screen with a role in John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven, in which he played
one of seven gunfighters taking up the cause of the defenseless, alongside such well-known actors as Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, and Steve McQueen.
Two years later, Sturges cast him for another film alongside Steve McQueen, as a claustrophobic Polish prisoner of war in The Great
Escape (1963). Two years after that, he played a supporting role alongside Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, and Telly Savalas
in another World War 2 film, Battle of the Bulge. In 1967 he joined another ensemble cast—this time including Lee Marvin and
Ernest Borgnine—in a third war film, The Dirty Dozen.
Bronson also made a name for himself in European films during this time. In 1968, he starred in Italian director, Sergio Leone's film,
Once Upon a Time in the West. (Leone had wanted to cast Bronson for the lead in his 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars, but
Bronson turned him down. Instead, the role launched Clint Eastwood into movie stardom.) Bronson also starred in the 1970 French film, Rider
on the Rain, which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Bronson came to be known for playing "tough guy" characters in such violent thrillers as The Mechanic (1972) and his most famous role, that
of Paul Kersey in the 1974 film, Death Wish, which spawned four sequels over the next two decades, all starring Bronson. In 1977 he
starred ias a Russian officer sent to the U.S. to stop sleeper agents in Telefon, and also played Wild Bill Hickok in White
Buffalo. In the 1980's, Bronson starred in Death Wish 2 (1982), Death Wish 3 (1985), and Death Wish 4, and
appeared in other action films such as Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986).
In the 1990's he appeared in the TV movie, A Family of Cops (1995), as well the sequels, Breach of Faith: A Family of Cops II
and A Family of Cops III: Under Suspicion. Bronson's last starring role in a theatrically
released film was 1994's Death Wish V: The Face of Death.
From 1968 until her death in 1990, Bronson was married to English actress Jill Ireland. The couple appeared in fourteen movies together,
including Breakheart Pass, The Mechanic, and Death Wish 2. In all, Charles Bronson had 162 acting credits.
Despite his prolific career, he had only one Emmy nomination and never received an Oscar nomination—though several of his films did. Charles
Bronson passed away in August, 2003.
Check out a Charles Bronson DVD at your Pinal County Libraries!