"He was always in a corner playing with a ball...He wasn't speaking to anyone.
He was a very mysterious man."
- Claudia Cardinale on Once Upon a Time in the West
co-star Charles Bronson
By many accounts, Charles Dennis Buchinsky, later known as Charles Bronson, was not a happy man. Stories abound of his stony and standoffish demeanor that saw him dispute Elvis' karate skills, argue and nearly come to blows with Dirty Dozen co-star and fellow badass Lee Marvin to refusing to shake hands with director Walter Hill after the Hard Times helmer criticized the acting performance of Jill Ireland, Bronson's wife. Socially, he was said to be fine one on one or in small groups but would go silent in a large one. When he did talk, one of his most discussed topics was a rough childhood where he was the 11th of 15 children of Lithuanian and Russian parents in coal country Pennsylvania. Bronson's father died when he was only 10 years old and he soon went to work for the local coal company and eventually into the mines before enlisting in the Air Force where he served as an aerial gunner during World War II.
Off screen, Bronson loved to paint and sold many works under the name Buchinsky. While he claimed to be more interested in his own thoughts than those of others, didn't like to talk about himself much and purposely tried to make himself unapproachable, Bronson's macho yet cool façade made him one of the great onscreen personalities. Happy Macho Monday, Charlie.
"This ain't ova!"