On This Day … 03 November [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1921 – Charles Bronson, American soldier and actor (d. 2003).
  • 1957 – Dolph Lundgren, Swedish actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and martial artist.

Charles Bronson

Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky; 03 November 1921 to 30 August 2003) was an American actor. Known for his “granite features and brawny physique,” he gained international fame for his starring roles in action, Western, and war films; initially as a supporting player and later a leading man. A quintessential cinematic “tough-guy”, Bronson was cast in various roles where the plot line hinged on the authenticity of the character’s toughness and brawn. At the height of his fame in the early 1970s, he was the world’s No. 1 box office attraction, commanding $1 million per film.

Born to a Lithuanian-American coal mining family in rural Pennsylvania, Bronson served in the United States Army Air Forces as a bomber tail gunner during World War II. He worked several odd jobs before entering the film industry in the early 1950s, playing bit and supporting roles as henchmen, thugs, and other “heavies”. After playing a villain in the Western film Drum Beat, he was cast in his first leading role by B-movie auteur Roger Corman, playing the title character in the gangster picture Machine-Gun Kelly (1958). The role brought him to the attention of mainstream critics, and led to sizable co-lead parts as an Irish-Mexican gunslinger in The Magnificent Seven (1960), a claustrophobic tunnelling expert in The Great Escape (1963), a small-town Southern louche in This Property Is Condemned (1966), and a prisoner-turned-commando in The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Despite his popularity with audiences and critics, Bronson was unable to find top-billed roles in major Hollywood productions. His acclaim among European filmmakers, particularly in France and Italy, led to a string of successful starring roles on the continent. He played a vengeful, Harmonica-playing gunman in Sergio Leone’s epic Spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), an offbeat detective in Rider on the Rain (1970), real-life Mafia turncoat Joe Valachi in The Valachi Papers (1972), and starred opposite Alain Delon in Adieu l’ami (1968) and Red Sun (1971). The success of those films proved his capability as a leading man and launched him to international stardom. In his home country, he played the architect-turned-vigilante Paul Kersey in Death Wish (1974) and its four sequels, a role that typified the rest of his career. He continued acting well into the 1980s, often in Cannon Films productions. His final role was in a trilogy of made for television films, Family of Cops, aired between 1991 and 1993.

For his contributions to the film industry, Bronson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1980.

Dolph Lundgren

Hans Lundgren (born 03 November 1957), better known as Dolph Lundgren, is a Swedish actor, filmmaker and martial artist. His breakthrough came in 1985, when he starred in Rocky IV as the imposing Soviet boxer Ivan Drago. Since then, Lundgren has starred in more than 80 films, almost all of them in the action genre.

Lundgren received a degree in chemical engineering from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in the early 1980s and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney in 1982. He holds the rank of 4th dan black belt in Kyokushin karate and was European champion in 1980-1981. While in Sydney, he became a bodyguard for Jamaican singer Grace Jones and began a relationship with her. He received a Fulbright scholarship to MIT and moved to Boston. Jones convinced him to leave the university and move to New York City to be with her and begin acting, where, after a short stint as a model and bouncer at the Manhattan nightclub The Limelight, Lundgren got a small debut role as a KGB henchman in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.

After appearing in Rocky IV, Lundgren portrayed He-Man in the 1987 science fantasy film Masters of the Universe, Lieutenant Nikolai Petrovitch Rachenko in Red Scorpion (1988) and Frank Castle in the 1989 film The Punisher. Throughout the 1990s he appeared in films such as I Come in Peace (1990), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Universal Soldier film series (1992, 2009, 2012), Joshua Tree (1993), Men of War (1994), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), Silent Trigger (1996), and Blackjack (1998). In 2004 he directed his first film, The Defender, and subsequently directed The Mechanik (2005), Missionary Man (2007), Command Performance (2009), Icarus (2010), Castle Falls (2021) and upcoming film Wanted Man (2023), also starring in all of them.

After a long spell performing in direct-to-video films since 1995, Lundgren returned to Hollywood in 2010 with the role of Gunner Jensen in The Expendables, alongside Sylvester Stallone and an all-action star cast. He reprised his role in The Expendables 2 (2012) and The Expendables 3 (2014). Also in 2014, he co-starred in Skin Trade, an action thriller about human trafficking he co-wrote and produced. He reprised his role of Ivan Drago in Creed II (2018), and is due to reprise his role as Gunner Jensen in The Expendables 4. He appears in Aquaman (2018), playing the father of Mera. He also had a recurring role in the fifth season of Arrow.

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