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Charles Bronson (1921 -- 2003)

Born Charles Buchinski, one of 15 children of a Lithuanian coal miner in Pennsylvania, Charles worked as a miner himself until joining the US army in World War II. The war broadened his horizons and he chose to study design, then stage acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.

His first film role came as a sailor in the Gary Cooper comedy, You're in the Navy Now (1950). Bronson's tough, rugged appearance and quiet, gravelly voice contributed to his honest, 'working class hero' persona. In the 1960s he appeared in several enduring classics - The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963), The Dirty Dozen (1967) - and in the 1970s he became a popular international lead, starring in a string of action movies.

His signature role is perhaps as the vigilante, Paul Kersey, in Michael Winner's Death Wish (1974) and its sequels. He also made Chato's Land (1971) and The Stone Killer (1973), both directed by Winner, Mr Majestyk (1974), Breakheart Pass (1975) and Borderline (1980). Married for over 20 years to the actress, Jill Ireland, who died of cancer in 1990, Bronson is survived by his third wife, Kay, and six children.