Legendary actor Charles Bronson has died at the age of 81 after losing his battle with pneumonia.

The Hollywood veteran - star of films such as The Magnificent Seven and the DEATH WISH series - passed away peacefully at the CEDARS-SINAI MEDICAL CENTER in Los Angeles on Saturday (30AUG03).

His publicist LORI JONAS says, "His wife KIM (WEEKS) was by his bedside. He is survived by six children and two grandchildren.

"He was a loving father and a wonderful actor, and he will be missed very much."

The much-loved actor had been battling Alzheimer's Disease for the past two years, and suffered organ failure earlier this month (AUG03).

Born to Lithuanian immigrants in 1921, young Bronson began his career working as a coal miner in Pennsylvania.

Following military service in World War II, he became one of the major action stars of Hollywood in the 1960s - along with Clint Eastwood and STEVE McQUEEN - in films like The Great Escape and THE DIRTY DOZEN.

His success reached a peak in 1971 when he was presented with a GOLDEN GLOBE for being "the most popular actor in the world".

By the 70s and 80s, Bronson secured a devoted cult following thanks to his portrayal of vigilante Paul Kersey in the Death Wish movies.

Although they were often criticised for being overtly violent, Bronson defended the films about a wronged family man out for revenge, saying in 1987, "I think they provide satisfaction for people who are victimised by crime and look in vain for authorities to protect them."

Bronson - who was married three times - lost his second wife JILL IRELAND to cancer in 1990. He married Kim Weeks in 1998.

01/09/2003 09:31