Birth Name: Charles Dennis Buchinsky
Date of Birth: November 3, 1921
Place of Birth: Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: August 30, 2003
Place of Death: Los Angeles, California
Ethnicity: Lithuanian and/or Polish, possibly other Eastern European
Charles Bronson was an American actor. He was legendary for playing tough guy roles.
Charles’s father, Walter Bunchinski, was an Eastern European immigrant, evidently from Druskininkai (now in Lithuania). Charles’s mother, Mary (Valinski/Valinsky), was born in Pennsylvania, to Eastern European parents. Charles’ maternal grandmother was named Mary A. Butsavage.
In a 1974 interview, Charles stated:
In Ehrenfeld, we were all jammed together. All the fathers were foreign-born. Welsh, Irish, Polish, Sicilian. I was Lithuanian and Russian. We were so jammed together we picked up each other’s accents. And we spoke some broken English. When I got into the service, people used to think I was from a foreign country.
In 1973, he stated:
People in this country think I’m an Indian, but I’m Slavic. I don’t care where I came from-it doesn’t matter. But I’d like to go to Lithuania some day, just to see it. And Russia, see what it’s like….
Charles’ parents’ surnames were not particularly Lithuanian, although it is possible that they were changed from more Lithuanian-sounding names. It was uncommon for working-class Eastern European Catholic immigrants of the time to have ethnic Russian ancestry, so it is not clear if Charles’ statement that he had Russian ancestry was accurate.
Some internet sources state that Charles had Tatar ancestry on his father’s side. It is not clear what the source of this claim is, or whether Charles himself stated so. Charles’s father, mother, and Charles himself, are listed as “White” on the 1920 U.S. Census, and Charles’s paternal and maternal grandparents are all listed as having been born in Lithuania.
Sources: Charles Bronson on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Possibly the marriage record of Charles’ parents – https://familysearch.org
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