Charles Bronson will always be remembered as a tough guy - most remembered for the Death Wish story.
What many don’t know - is the would-be actor had it rougher than most growing up. He grew up in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains.
In a 1973 interview, Bronson said that he did not know his father very well and “I'm not even sure if I loved him or hated him.” He said that all he could remember was that when his mother said that his father was coming home, the children would hide.
When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died and he went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine. He later said he earned one dollar for each ton of coal that he mined. In another interview, he said that he had to work double shifts to earn $1 a week. Bronson later recounted that he and his brother engaged in dangerous work removing "stumps" between the mines, and that cave-ins were common.
The family suffered extreme poverty during the Great Depression, and Bronson recalled going hungry many times. His mother could not afford milk for his younger sister, so she was fed warm tea instead.
His family was so poor that he once had to wear his sister's dress to school for lack of clothing. Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He got out of the mines by enlisting in the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 during World War II.
He was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress aerial gunner with the Guam-based 61st Bombardment Squadron. He flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle. He first lead television role was in Man With a Camera. Bronson portrayed Mike Kovac, a former Korean war combat photographer freelancing in New York City who specialized in getting the photographs that other lensmen could not.
He usually assists newspapers, insurance companies, the police and private individuals, all of whom want a filmed record of an event. He employed his photographic skills to solve cases or get in trouble, with a Minox III mini-camera fastened to his belt, fisheye and telephoto lens and even converted the trunk of his car into a portable darkroom.
Kovac's police liaison was Lieutenant Donovan (James Flavin), though he frequently seeks advice from Anton Kovac (Ludwig Stössel), his immigrant father.
My friends at mpi media group released the complete series on DVD yesterday, May 12.