Last weekend, while I was in Los Angeles for the Santa Anita Derby, I got a chance to take a tour of the Paramount Studios lot. Our tour guide shared a story about Charles Bronson, who also happens to be the subject of one of Harry Crews’s most celebrated magazine profiles, “Charles Bronson Ain’t No Pussycat,” from Playboy, October 1975.
According to our tour guide, the then-unknown actor had just been offered his first legitimate screen role. However, the casting director didn’t think the actor’s given name, Charles Buchinski, would look good on a theater marquis. Buchinski looked out the window of the Paramount Studios casting office, which is located on Bronson Avenue, saw the street sign, and the rest is Holywood legend.
The accompanying photo was taken on the set of “Breakheart Pass,” the movie Bronson was shooting when Crews interviewed him in 1975. Or, more accurately, tried to interview him. Crews spent a week on the set and got only a few pages of notes from the notorioiusly reticent actor. “Everybody saw a lot of Charles Bronson’s back,” Crews wrote. “His charateristic gesture was to show his back to the largest number of people possible.”
Maybe Crews should have yelled “Turn around, Buchinski!”