Before Becoming A Hollywood Icon, Charles Bronson Was A WWII Hero Who Won A Purple Heart

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Images: Herald American / via Rock-Cafe

Thanks to his roles in movies such as The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen and Death Wish, Charles Bronson earned a reputation as a hard-bitten tough guy on screen. In reality, though, he was a thoughtful and private person, a painter and a family man. But despite Bronson bearing little resemblance to many of the characters that he portrayed, his own life could actually have made a fascinating action drama, too. You see, the star not only overcame a traumatic childhood, but he also fought in World War II – and earned a Purple Heart into the bargain.

Image: via IMDb

Yes, Bronson’s image as a hard man was earned largely through his big-screen performances. He was usually typecast as a vigilante type seeking revenge – owing, perhaps, to his ability to portray cold anger well. And, in fact, a number of his movies were violent enough to cause public stirs. Death Wish in particular was considered to be an outright dangerous film.

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Image: Bettmann/Getty Images

At the very least, Death Wish provoked quite the furor. The New York Times’ film reviewer Vincent Canby went so far as to denounce the action flick in two separate articles, branding it “a despicable movie – one that raises complex questions in order to offer bigoted, frivolous, oversimplified answers.” Even the man who had written the book upon which Death Wish was based, author Brian Garfield, spoke out against the adaptation.

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