US movie legend Bronson is dead

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HOLLYWOOD actor Charles Bronson has died at the age of 81.

The a hard-faced action star, famous for films such as The Magnificent Seven, died from pneumonia at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles on Saturday.

He had been in the hospital for weeks.

His publicist Lori Jonas said: "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."

Bronson starred in more than 60 movies, including The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen.

But 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.

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

But his early life gave no indication of his later fame. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania.

He was the 11th of 15 children of a coal miner and his wife, both Lithuanian immigrants.

He followed his brothers into the mines and where he was paid $1 per ton of coal, and spent time in jail for assault and robbery.

He might have stayed in the mines for the rest of his life except for World War II.

Drafted in 1943, he served with the US Army Air Corps in the Pacific, reportedly as a tail gunner on a B29.

His most controversial film came in 1974 with Death Wish.

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."

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