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Charles Bronson/Fun Facts

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Charles Bronson

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  • Shared a room with Jack Klugman in a New York boarding house in the 1940s.
  • He had two children with his first wife, Tony and Suzanne. He then married Jill Ireland, who had two sons with her first husband, David McCallum. One adopted son (Jason) died in 1989. He and Ireland had a daughter named Zuleika.
  • Perhaps the biggest late bloomer in Hollywood history, he did not get the marquee treatment he deserved until his late 40s. He was already 53 when Death Wish (1974) premiered.
  • The name Bronson is said to taken from the "Bronson Gate" at Paramount Studios, at the north end of Bronson Avenue.
  • Spoofed in an episode of "The Simpsons" (1989) in which the Simpson family mistakenly travels to Bronson, Missouri, instead of Branson. In Bronson, such lines of dialogue as these are spoken by its citizens: "No dice.", "This ain't ovah."
  • Changed his stage name in the early 1950s in the midst of the McCarthy "Red Scare" at the suggestion of his agent, who was fearful that his last name (Buchinsky) would damage his career.
  • Actor Dick Van Dyke received a lemon cake every Christmas from Bronson, who lived nearby in Malibu for 16 years
  • In 1949 he moved to California, where he signed up for acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse
  • In 1954 on the Mexican set of Vera Cruz (1954), he and fellow cast member Ernest Borgnine--who were playing American gunfighters involved in the Mexican fight against the French--had some spare time on their hands and decided to go to a nearby town for cigarettes. They saddled up in costume, sidearms and all, and began riding to town. On the way they were spotted by a truck full of Mexican "federales"--national police--who mistook them for bandits and held them at gunpoint until their identities could be verified.
  • Was drafted into the army in 1943 and assigned to the Air Corps. At first he was a truck driver, but was later trained as a bomber tail gunner and assigned to a B-29. He flew 25 missions and received, among other decorations, a Purple Heart for wounds incurred in battle.
  • "I am not a Casper Milquetoast," Bronson told The Washington Post in 1985, recalling the time he was visiting Rome and felt someone stick a gun in his side. "A guy in broken English asked me for money. I said, 'You give ME money.' He turned around and walked away."
  • Director John Huston once summed him up as "a grenade with the pin pulled"
  • Was by all accounts a very quiet and introspective collaborator, often sitting in a corner for much of a shoot and listening to a director's instructions and not saying a word until cameras were rolling.
  • Was the first actor considered for the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981)
  • He grew privately frustrated by the declining quality and range of roles over his career, being pigeonholed as a violent vigilante after the commercial success of Death Wish (1974). His own favorite of his "vigilante" movies was C'era una volta il West (1968) (aka Once Upon a Time in the West).
  • In 1963 Sergio Leone asked him to star in his western Per un pugno di dollari (1964) (A Fistful of Dollars). Bronson turned the role down, so Leone asked Clint Eastwood.
  • His father died when he was 10, and at 16 he followed his brothers into the mines to support the family. He was paid $1 per ton of coal and volunteered for perilous jobs because the pay was better.
  • Responding to critics' complaints, he said: "We don't make movies for critics, since they don't pay to see them anyhow."
  • Called West Windsor, Vermont his home for more than three decades (Bronson Farm), and was buried in nearby Brownsville Cemetery, near the foot of Mt. Ascutney.
  • Appeared with Steve McQueen and James Coburn in two films, both of which were directed by John Sturges: The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963).
  • With his death on August 30, 2003, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach are the only two of the seven main stars of the The Magnificent Seven (1960) who are still alive as of November 2005.
  • His stepson, Jason McCallum Bronson, the adoptive son of David McCallum and Jill Ireland, died of an accidental drug overdose in 1989.
  • Was introduced to his second wife, Jill Ireland, by her then-husband David McCallum during the filming of The Great Escape (1963).
  • Spoke fluent Russian, Lithuanian and Greek.
  • Owned homes in Europe, including Lithuania and Greece.
  • Had hip replacement surgery in August 1998.
  • The voice of the sarcastic store clerk in "The Simpsons" (1989) is based on him.
  • Sergio Leone once called him "the greatest actor I ever worked with". Leone had wanted Bronson for all three of what became known as the "Man with No Name" trilogy, but Bronson turned him down each time.
  • The term "Charles Bronson" is frequently uttered in Reservoir Dogs (1992) in reference to a hard-man.
  • He was very active in raising funds for the John Wayne Cancer Institute.
  • Advertised Mandom hair oil.
  • Capable of essaying a variety of types, from Russian to American Indian, from homicidal villain to tight-lipped hero, Bronson suddenly became a star at the age of 50. Following the success of Death Wish (1974) he repeated, with little variation, his role as a vengeful urban vigilante.
  • In the latter part of his career, he worked predominantly with The Guns of Navarone (1961) director J. Lee Thompson. They made nine films together in just over a decade between 1977 and 1989: 10 to Midnight (1983), Caboblanco (1980), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), The Evil That Men Do (1984), Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989), Messenger of Death (1988), Murphy's Law (1986), St. Ives (1976) and The White Buffalo (1977).
  • From a Lithuanian family, he grew up in a western Pennsylvania coal-mining town. Like all the men in his family, he worked in the mines, but hated it and used a variety of means to escape it (including the military and, eventually, acting). His expertise with tunneling and working underground turned out to be quite helpful when making The Great Escape (1963) in the role of "Tunnel King" Velinski. However, even though the "tunnel" he was working in was a cutaway set, he could only stay in it for a few minutes at a time before he had to get up and leave. As a boy working in the mines, he was caught in a cave-in and almost died before he was finally rescued. Ever since that time he had had a deathly fear of enclosed spaces.
  • Made six films with director Michael Winner: Chato's Land (1972), The Mechanic (1972), The Stone Killer (1973), Death Wish (1974), Death Wish II (1982) and Death Wish 3 (1985).
  • In the '90s a lady whom he'd never met left him her estate worth well over a million dollars. She was a big fan of his. Her family sued and he ended up settling with them out of court.
  • Diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000 after suffering ill health for the previous two years.
  • Retired from acting after undergoing hip replacement surgery in 1998.
  • The Japanese manga artist Buronson, famed for the "Fist of the Northstar" manga, took the name in honor of Bronson (his real name is Yoshiyuki Okamura) and sports a similar mustache.
  • He and wife Jill Ireland adopted Katrina Holden Bronson after her mother Hilary Holden died in 1983.
  • Only actor to star in both The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Salary

  • 10 to Midnight (1983): $2,000,000
  • St. Ives (1976): $1,000,000
  • Death Wish (1974): $1,000,000
  • Valdez, il mezzosangue (1973): $1,000,000
  • The Stone Killer (1973): $1,000,000
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