Charles Bronson Dead at Age 81

Charles Bronson, famous for his many action movies including The Dirty Dozen and Death Wish, has died at age 81 from pneumonia.

Born in 1921 in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania, Charles was one of 15 children of a slavic family. His birth name was Charles Buchinsky and his father died when he was only 10. He did his time in the coal mines and then went off to World War II. When the war was over, he joined some friends doing scenery work for theater, and slowly got brought into acting.

Charles found it difficult to find roles in a world that idolized the smooth, elegant features of James Bond type heroes. His movies first found success in Europe where moviegoers appreciated his craggy, rough look. Movies like The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape helped to introduce him to the American audience.

It was his Death Wish series in the 70s that truly cemented him as a powerful star. Here he played an "average guy" whose family is destroyed by criminals. He finds the strength to go out and take them on as a vigilante. This transformation really struck a chord with moviegoers.

Charles Bronson had been suffering from Alzheimer's and caught pneumonia about a month ago. He finally succumed to it. He leaves behind six children and his second wife, Kim Weeks. His first wife, Jill Ireland, had died in 1990 from cancer.

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