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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Hollywood star Bronson dies
Charles Bronson
Bronson epitomised the on-screen Hollywood hard man
Hollywood actor Charles Bronson has died at the age of 81.

Bronson was most famous for his tough guy persona in films such as The Magnificent Seven and the Death Wish series.

He died from pneumonia at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Saturday.

His publicist Lori Jonas told BBC News Online: "His wife Kim was by his bedside. He is survived by six children and two grandchildren.

"He was a loving father and a wonderful actor, and he will be missed very much."

British film director Michael Winner, who directed Bronson in six films, also paid tribute.

"He was a very, very close friend for more than 30 years and a very under-rated actor," he said.

'Complex' man

"He was a wonderfully charismatic screen presence such as you seldom get in the history of cinema," he added.

He described Bronson as a "complex" man who had been affected by his previous job as a coal miner.

Born Charles Buchinski in 1921 in Pennsylvania, US, Bronson began his career working in coal mines along with other members of his Lithuanian immigrant family.

After military service in World War II, Bronson studied acting in California.

A gentleman both on and off screen
Annette, Denmark

He became one of the major action stars of Hollywood in the 1960s along with Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen in films like The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen.

In 1967 he headed across the Atlantic, becoming a box-office draw in Europe with his role as an avenger in Italian director Sergio Leone's 1968 spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West.

The life and career of Charles Bronson

The French knew him as "le sacre monstre" [the sacred monster], the Italians as "Il Brutto" [the ugly man].

In 1971, he was presented with a Golden Globe as "the most popular actor in the world."

He will probably be best remembered for his role as vigilante Paul Kersey in the Death Wish series of films directed by Michael Winner during the 1970s and 1980s.

The movies were often singled out for their overt violence, but Bronson's portrayal of the wronged family man out for revenge won him a huge following.

He defended the films, saying in 1987: "I think they provide satisfaction for people who are victimised by crime and look in vain for authorities to protect them."

But he also once said: "Someday I'd like a part where I can lean my elbow against a mantelpiece and have a cocktail."

Bronson also appeared in more than a dozen films with his second wife, Jill Ireland, who died of cancer in 1990.

The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"Bronson was a coal miner before training as an actor"

Obituary: Charles Bronson
01 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Winner's tribute to 'top star' Bronson
01 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Your tributes to actor Charles Bronson
01 Sep 03  |  Have Your Say

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