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Charles Bronson was born "Charles Buchinski" in 1921, and although he was only 5' 10", no one doubted his toughness. He was one of 14 children of a coal miner, and he was far from an overnight success. He didn't have his first movie role until he was 29 in 1951, and throughout the 1950s he labored in minor roles (often as a villain, because of his looks), and a few major roles in very minor movies. In 1960, when he was 38 he played Bernardo O'Reilly in The Magnificent Seven, followed by Danny "The Tunnel King" in The Great Escape, both for director John Sturges, followed by his role as Wladislaw in The Dirty Dozen, and those roles gained him much notice, and built him a cult following. But it was when he went to Europe the following year, for Once Upon a Time in The West, for Sergio Leone, and other "spaghetti" westerns, that he became an international superstar. Back in the U.S. he made the movie he is likely best remembered for, Death Wish, in 1974 (when he was 53), and the next year he starred in Hard Times, completely credible as the ultimate street fighter, even though he was 54! He was married in 1963, when he worked with David McCallum on the set of The Great Escape, and McCallum introduced Bronson to his wife Jill Ireland, and five years later Bronson and Ireland divorced their spouses and married, and remained married until Ireland's death in 1990 from breast cancer. Bronson passed away in 2003 at the age of 81.
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