Charles Bronson was born in Pennsylvania to Lithuanian parents. As a result of his up bringing he could speak several languages fluently. He also worked in the coal mines where he was in a tunnel collapse resulting in a lifelong fear of closed spaces. This fear and his languages were integrated into his roles in The Great Escape (1963) and The Dirty Dozen (1967).
In 1943, Bronson joined the US Army Air Corp as an aerial gunner. He flew 25 combat mission before attending college on the GI Bill studying art. He was recommended to a director by one of art professor and debut in You’re in the Navy Now (1951). Until the early 60s he was given a lot of roles where he could show off his muscles by going shirtless.
His biggest break came when he was cast as a half Mexican/half Irish gunfighter Bernardo O’Reilly in The Magnificent Seven (1960). This was followed by the role of Danny Velinski, a tunnel rat in the start studded The Great Escape (1963). To fill out the decade he was cast in another star packed WWI movie, The Dirty Dozen (1967). Through the late 60s and early 70s he was cast in several westerns followed by diverse roles such as gangsters or hitmen.
His roles continued with tough guy films such as Mr. Majestyk (1974) and Death Wish (1974) and its four sequels. He made films through the 80s often paired with his wife Jill Ireland but basically playing the same character. He died in 2003.