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Charles Bronson, the Pennsylvania coal miner who drifted into films as a villain and became a hard-faced action star, notably in the popular "Death Wish" vengeance movies, has died. He was 81.
During the height of his career, Bronson was hugely popular in Europe; the French knew him as "le sacre monstre" (the sacred monster), the Italians as "Il Brutto" (the brute). In 1971, he was presented a Golden Globe as "the most popular actor in the world."
Bronson died Saturday of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his wife at his bedside, publicist Lori Jonas said. He had been in the hospital for weeks, Jonas said.
Bronson, who was famous for his roles as a quiet, tough-talking hero in often violent films, was in 1972 named the biggest box office star by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and received the Gold Star Award as the film industry's top international star in 1979.
His craggy looks, menacing presence and understated acting style helped earn him applause in such films as "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), "The Great Escape" (1963) and "The Dirty Dozen" (1967).
His reputation was confirmed in such later movies as "Mr. Majestyk" (1974) as well as "Death Wish" and its sequels in 1981 and 1986.