When I was in school, I remember playing truant and bunking school to go over to the Rex cinema in Mumbai (now defunct) to see a movie with Charles Bronson. If I remember correctly it was Guns for San Sebastian in which he costarred with Anthony Quinn, another great star. Seeing Bronson in the role of a tough man, made him my hero and I saw almost all his movies, even those that were released a decade earlier in re-runs like The Magnificent Seven and the Great Escape.
The Macho Star
Charles Bronson certainly had a following in India, where his movies were well received. It’s a pity though, that he never visited India. Charles Bronson was a Hollywood actor in the classical mode. His career spanned a period when Hollywood was at its zenith. He certainly brought to life a tough and macho image. He was the original he man star.
One series of films that won him popular acclaim were the Death Wish series. The last of which he acted in 1995.He stopped acting after this movie as ill health over took him. He was also a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. In all five Death Wish movies, were churned out and they brought to the fore a man as tough as nails: he was a real American hero.
Bronson at the Top
Bronson’s place in the sun was at its apogee during the seventies and eighties. As he turned in some excellent performance in a number of films like Death Wish(1974), Once upon a time in the West (1969) Break Out (1975) and many more. In fact during this period, he was one of the highest paid stars of Hollywood.
Bronson died in 2003 at the age of 82. But he left behind a legacy that will be hard to match, particularly in the genre of western and tough mans roles.
To back up his tough man image, Bronson also supported a muscular body. Perhaps, his years as a coal miner helped form his physique after his father died when he was only 10. One other aspect of Bronson’s life was his family, which took preponderance over anything else. Married to Jill Ireland for 22 years till her death in 1990, he had a special affection for her and starred in 14 movies with her in the lead.
Charles Bronson will be remembered as a star that brought justice to roles that demanded a hero with a tough macho image.