Date: 2nd September 2003

Charles Bronson dies aged 81

Actor Charles Bronson has died in the US at the age of 81.

Bronson died yesterday of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles with his wife Kim at his bedside.

Publicist Lori Jonas said he had been in hospital for several weeks.

He is best known for his role in the Death Wish films - plus appearances in The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen.

During the height of his career, Bronson was hugely popular in Europe and in 1971 he was presented with a Golden Globe as "the most popular actor in the world".

Like Clint Eastwood, Bronson had to make European films to prove his worth as a star. He left a career in Hollywood to play leads in films made in France, Italy and Spain. His blunt manner, powerful build and air of danger made him one of the most popular actors in those countries.

At the age of 50, he returned to Hollywood a star.

In a 1971 interview, he theorised on why the journey had taken him so long.

"Maybe I'm too masculine. Casting directors cast in their own, or an idealised image. Maybe I don't look like anybody's ideal," he said.

His early life gave no indication of his later fame. He was born Charles Bunchinsky on November 3, 1921 - not 1922, as studio biographies claimed - in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania. He was the 11th of 15 children of a coal miner and his wife, both Lithuanian immigrants.

Source: Press Release