Bronson, Charles Dennis, Sgt

Deceased
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 0611-Aerial Gunner
Last AFSC Group
USAAF
Primary Unit
1944-1946, 61st Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy
Service Years
1943 - 1946
Foreign Language(s)
Lithuanian
Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

9 kb

Home State
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
Year of Birth
1921
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SMSgt Joseph Davis (Joe)(JD) to remember Bronson, Charles Dennis (Buchinsky), Sgt.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Ehrenfeld, PA
Last Address
Brownsville, VT

Date of Passing
Aug 30, 2003
 
Location of Interment
Brownsville Cemetery - West Windsor, Vermont
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Unit Assignments
39th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy61st Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy
  1944-1946, 39th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy
  1944-1946, 61st Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy
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Biography

The 'official' year of birth for Charles Bronson is 1921. However, doubt surrounds it and he may have been up to 10 years older.

The son of a Lithuanian coal miner, American actor Charles Bronson claimed to have spoken no English at home during his childhood in Pennsylvania. Though he managed to complete high school, it was expected that Bronson would go into the mines like his father and many brothers. Experiencing the world outside Pennsylvania during World War II service, however, Bronson came back to America determined to pursue an art career. While working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, Bronson played a few small roles and almost immediately switched his allegiance from the production end of theater to acting.

After a few scattered acting jobs in New York, the 5' 11" Bronson enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse in 1949. By 1951, he was in films, playing uncredited bits in such pictures as The People Against O'Hara (1951); You're in the Navy Now (1952), which also featured a young bit actor named Lee Marvin; Diplomatic Courier (1952); Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952), as a waiter(!); and The Clown (1953). When he finally achieved billing, it was under his own name, Charles Buchinsky (sometimes spelled Buchinski). His first role of importance was as Igor, the mute granite-faced henchman of deranged sculptor Vincent Price in House of Wax (1953).

The actor was billed as Charles Bronson for the first time in Drum Beat (1954). Changed his stage name in the midst of the McCarthy "Red Scare" for fear his last name (Buchinsky) would damage his career. The name Bronson i was taken from the "Bronson Gate" at Paramount Studios, at the north end of Bronson Avenue.

In the 1950s he was still consigned to character roles as Slavs, American Indians, hoodlums, and convicts. Most sources claim that Bronson's first starring role was in Machine Gun Kelly (1958), but, in fact, he had the lead in 1958's Gang War, playing an embryonic version of his later Death Wish persona as a mild-mannered man who turned vengeful after the death of his wife. Bronson achieved his first fan following with the TV series Man With a Camera (1959), in which he played adventurous photojournalist Mike Kovac (and did double duty promoting the sponsor's camera products in the commercials). His best film role up until 1960 was as one of The Magnificent Seven (1960), dominating several scenes despite the co-star competition of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, and others. Most of Bronson's film roles after Seven remained in the "supporting-villainy category," however, so, in 1968, the actor packed himself off to Europe, where American action players like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef were given bigger and better opportunities. Multiplying his international box-office appeal tenfold with such films as Guns for San Sebastian (1967), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Cold Sweat (1970), and The Valachi Papers (1971), Bronson returned to Hollywood a full-fledged star at last.

His most successful films of the 1970s were Death Wish (1974) and its sequels, a series of brutal "vigilante" pictures which suggested not so subliminally that honest people would ultimately have to dole out their own terminal justice to criminals. For the first Death Wish his salary was $1,000,000.

The first three Death Wish films were directed by Michael "I've Got More Money Than You" Winner and the first movie is about the only decent thing the awfully awful Winner has directed. Michael Winner is currently starring in the cult esure commercials in the UK and writing Daily Mail obituaries for each and every one of the stars who were his bestest friend in the world since, er, his last famous friend died. He's still got more money than the rest of us, a fact he never tires of telling us.

In many of his '70s films, Bronson co-starred with second wife Jill Ireland, with whom he remained married until she lost her fight against cancer in 1990. Bronson's bankability subsequently fell off, due in part to younger action stars doing what he used to do twice as vigorously, and because of his truculent attitude toward fans. He did little but television work after 1991's The Indian Runner (Sean Penn's directorial debut), with Death Wish 5: The Face of Death (1994) his only feature since. Bronson's onscreen career would soon draw to a close with his role as law enforcing family patriarch Paul Fein in the made-for-cable Family of Cops series.

On August 30, 2003 Charles Bronson died of pneumonia in Los Angeles. He was 81.
--------------------

Charles Bronson  in WWII - US Army

We have conflicting stories about the war record of Charles Bronson in World War II.

One source says "Charles Bronson's publicity information used to state that he flew as a bomber gunner in WWII. Actually, he drove a delivery truck in Kingman, Arizona, for the 760th Mess Squadron."

Pete Weiler, visitor to this site says: "According to the 39th Bombardment Group's history (39th BG was a B-29 stationed on Guam in 1945 (the Pacific Theater) Charles Buchinski (real name of Charles Bronson), served as a nose gunner. There is also 61st Sqd Roster dated Sept 1945 which lists Cpl Charles Buchinski as a member of the unit."

Without any question, he starred in several classic WWII films, "The Great Escape," "The Dirty Dozen," and "The Battle of the Bulge."
(Bronson appeared in the Combat! episode "Heritage.")
(Photo from Kingman Army Air Field 1944 Yearbook provided to site by Rob Chilcoat)


 
   
Other Comments:
Trivia

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 of an accidental drug overdose 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).

Growing up without much money for newer clothes, as a boy he often wore his older sister's hand-me-downs.

He was considered for the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981), but director John Carpenter felt Bronson was too old and too tough, and cast Kurt Russell instead.

Tested and read for Christopher Reeve's role in Superman (1978).

He was considered for Gene Hackman's Oscar-winning role in The French Connection (1971).

Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 48-50. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.

Tennessee Williams wanted him to play the general in his play "The Red Devil Battery Sign" in 1975, but he wasn't interested.

Bill Murray said he based his character in Lost in Translation (2003) on Bronson.

Not to be confused with the violent British criminal of the same name currently (2009) in the news.

Stepfather of Val McCallum.

Left an estate worth $48 million including an $8 million house in Malibu as well as a $4.8 million beach house and a ranch in Vermont.

Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday, December 10, 1980. Bronson and wife Jill Ireland attended the ceremony.
 

"In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bronson#Early_life_and_World_War_II_service


 
   
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