Birth Name: Charles Dennis Buchinsky
Date of Birth: November 3, 1921
Place of Birth: Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Date of Death: August 30, 2003
Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Ethnicity: Lithuanian and/or Polish, possibly other Eastern European
Charles Bronson was an American actor, also credited as under his birth name, Charles Buchinsky. He was legendary for playing tough guy roles.
Charles’s father, Walter Buchinski, was an Eastern European emigrant, 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 appears that the family spoke Lithuanian. 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.
Charles was married to Kim Weeks, until his death. He had two children with his former wife, Harriet Tendler, and two children with his former wife, English actress and singer Jill Ireland.
Charles is listed as having been Jewish on several web sites. He was not Jewish. However, his first wife Harriett is Jewish.
Sources: Charles Bronson on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Possibly the marriage record of Charles’ parents – https://familysearch.org
Genealogy of Charles Bronson (focusing on his mother’s side) – https://www.geni.com
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