Charles Bronson

Charles Bronson was born Nov. 3, 1921, in rural Pennsylvania, one of 15 children of a Lithuanian coal miner. After World War II service, he enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse and began appearing in small roles in television and movies as Charles Buchinski. He played many henchman, soldier and Indian roles, including Ygor in House of Wax (1953).

Renamed Bronson after 1954, he starred in The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen and many other notable films. Filling in for Clint Eastwood in 1968's Once Upon a Time in the West made Bronson a superstar in Europe, where he worked for several years (he was known as "Il Bruto" in Italy). In 1972, he nabbed a special Golden Globe Award as "The World's Most Popular Actor."

Back in the United States, Bronson scored again as the vigilante hero of Death Wish (1974) and continued in the same vein well into his 70s. He died Aug. 30, 2003.