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Dans son livre, Charlie & Me, raconte Harriett Bronson les plaisirs et les peines d'un mariage
avec un vedette de cinéma. En même temps examine-t-elle la difficulté d'une femme à trouver
le juste milieu entre son dévouement à son mari et l'attention à ses besoins à elle.

Comme jeune fille rêvait Harriet à devenir actrice célèbre, mais à 18 ans s'est-elle mariée
avec Charles Bronson, un jeune acteur sans ressources, et c'était lui (pas Harriett) qui a réalisé
son rêve à lui. Seulement 16 ans plus tard, quand le couple s'était divorcé, s'était-elle rendu compte
de ses sacrifices dans l'intérêt de son époux, et il lui a fallu plusieurs ans pour retrouver sa voie.
Enfin, cependant, a-t-elle trouvé non seulement un but dans sa vie mais en même temps sa célébrité
à elle.

Cette histoire du courage et de la persévérance de Harriett Bronson servira comme un modèle et
une inspiration à des femmes qui se trouvent en circonstances semblables :
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A Hollywood memoir by the first wife of actor Charles Bronson which details their 16-year marriage and high profile divorce; the author's life afterwards as the "ex" Mrs. Famous; and her successful struggle to reinvent herself as a talk radio host. The book also gives an in-depth look at Bronson's incredible journey from Pennsylvania coal miner to Hollywood royalty. CHARLIE & ME is about old Hollywood; about the basic ingredients of success (such as "show up on time and be prepared"); and about the impact of international fame and fortune on a marriage. CHARLIE & ME is a true love tale gone wrong. There is no story like this story.
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le 24 février 2011
Harriett Bronson's book "Charlie & Me" tells about Charles Bronson's rise to fame. Far from meteoric, the late actor struggled for years, slowly building his career with the help and support of Harriett.

She serves up a compassionate, realistic look at the best and the worst of Charles Bronson's path to fame, and how the married couple travelled it together until they no longer could. It's a story only Harriett can tell - and finally she has.

Besides the great writing, Harriett's memoir includes photographs of Charles before he came to Hollywood, when he worked as a coal miner and then as a World War II tail gunner. Numerous other photos document the couple's life together from their first date to their last public dinner together as a married couple.

Rather than being at arm's length as in most paparazzi/tabloid accounts, Harriett includes the reader in how it felt from the inside of a dream that finally came true - only for her to lose the Charles Bronson she fell in love with to Charles Bronson, the star.

A wonderfully transformational tale, Charlie & Me is a truly inspiring account of turning lost love for another into loving yourself and reconnecting with your own dream - and achieving it.

Great job, Harriett!

Kristi Koons
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le 2 février 2011
Part of Charles Bronson's success was his reluctance to go public with his private life. It seems hard to believe in the era of Charlie Sheen that there once was an era in which celebrities valued their privacy and dignity. Bronson overcame a predestined fate to follow his family members in working in the mines of Pennsylvania. Through quiet, but hard-nosed determination, he gained a foothold in Hollywood and became a reliable supporting actor before his unlikely emergence as one of the world's most bankable leading men. Even at the height of his fame and popularity, Bronson's fans knew little about his personal life beyond the prerequisite studio-issued biographies. He rarely attended Hollywood functions, almost never promoted his films and only fleetingly gave interviews. I once asked Michael Winner, the director with whom he had some great successes, if he could say he really knew Bronson and the answer was a resounding "No."

There were reasons for Bronson's reluctance to open up his personal life and some of them revolved around his messy marital problems and affairs. These are painfully recounted in Charlie and Me, a memoir by his first wife Harriett. In the early years of their courtship, she found Bronson to be attentive and thoughtful, even if he harbored a lifelong insecurity about the women in his life that made him obsessively jealous. Harriett Bronson's book is a true page-turner, as it gives a different perspective from what little has been relayed to date about his personality. Harriett Bronson's story is the same as so many Hollywood wives: they stuck with their husband during the lean years and when success finally came, they were unceremoniously dumped for another woman. In this case, the other woman was British actress Jill Ireland, who was married to Bronson's best friend, David McCallum. The two men bonded in Germany on the set of The Great Escape, and these stories provide the basis for some of the book's most intriguing elements. Although Bronson claimed he considered McCallum as "a god" for being so kind to him, he didn't hesitate to initiate an affair with Ireland. While Harriett stewed about the constant delays on the film caused by Steve McQueen's perfectionism, Bronson relished the extra time "on location" with Jill. Though Bronson denied there was anything beyond friendship, Harriett used the services of a private detective to unveil the truth.

The result was a long, torturous break-up of two marriages, though both couples ignored the gossip columns and put on the pretense of a stable family environment. Bronson even argued against divorce, but Harriett insisted that she would not be the other woman in her own marriage. The book paints McCallum as largely disinterested in the dissolution of his own relationship with Ireland, something she resented. The implication is that McCallum secretly welcomed the development. (He went on to marry model Kathy Carpenter shortly after his divorce from Ireland and the two remain a couple today). Harriett soon found that Bronson could be vindictive and heartless in his dealings with her. She describes Ireland as a Lady MacBeth-type of shrew, who revels in trying to steal custody of Harriett's own children. A highlight of the book is a literal cat fight between the two, as Bronson stands passively by wiping up some debris from his carpet.

There are obviously two sides to every story and Jill Ireland told hers in two books prior to her death from cancer in 1990. Naturally, she presented a very different side of events, though there were rather pained observations that Bronson resented her writing about her battles with cancer, despite the fact that the books inspired many people. The only suriviving person who knows exactly what happened in these situations is Harriett Bronson, so one has to accept her memoir from the standpoint that there is no one to contradict her versions of events. However, they do ring true. The book is disappointingly short on any observations about Bronson's films. Harriett relates a few anecdotes about being on the set of The Magnificent Seven, but the entire film is dismissed in a few sentences. It would have been wonderful to hear her recount the general atmosphere on the set and the relationships between the actors. Still, this isn't a book about filmmaking, but rather, one woman's rise from being a discarded wife of a famous actor to reaching a level of independence as a successful author and radio talk show host, despite having to overcome considerable physical and mental challenges. At the book's conclusion, there is a reconciliation of sorts between Harriett, Bronson and the dying Jill- but after Bronson marries for a third time following Jill's death, another "new wife" excludes Harriett from her former husband's funeral. It's a tough, gritty and emotional story well-told and minus the sugary content many of these memoirs are noted for. If there's a major flaw with the book it's that it's on the thin side and leaves us hungry for more. As it stands, it's probably the most comprehensive portrait of the elusive superstar we are likely to see.

(The book features an abundance of rare family photos from Bronson's early years).
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le 23 mars 2011
Charlie and Me is aptly named. It begins by detailing Charles Bronson's life before the tabloids and behind the headlines--a very interesting exploration of what is really involved in making it big in Hollywood. Harriet Bronson also uncovers the loneliness of an uneven marriage: "I was fused with Charlie, and when he left me I felt that I was nothing, invisible, dead." This feeling is not exclusive to the "Ex Mrs. Famous" and Harriet's memoir expresses the searing pain and bitterness shared by anyone who has experienced divorce. But what emerges out of her feelings of loss is Harriet Bronson's discovery of "Me." A "me" the reader finds engaging, entertaining, and most importantly, as she is true to herself, real.
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le 2 mars 2011
I loved the way the author wrote this book - so honestly and candid. I read every page with excitement, looking forward to the next one. What a disappointment when I was finished!

Many of us can identify with laying our lives to the side to support the man in our life, and I guess we often have a similar outcome. Of such is life, but it helps heal the wounds in our hearts to know of others who are transparent enough to let us in on their hurts, which helps heal all of us.

If you love the glitz of Hollywood, revealed by one in the circle, this is a great read for you.
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le 3 décembre 2011
Ce livre raconte comment Harriet Tendler, 18 ans, rencontre au cours d'art dramatique un apprenti acteur de 25 ans, Charles Buchinsky ; leur histoire d'amour, leur mariage, la vie à Hollywood où le jeune acteur montera les échelons du succès en devenant Charles Bronson, puis l'infidélité, le divorce...
Un livre livrant quelques facettes parfois déplaisantes de l'acteur, mais sans amertume ni mauvaise fois.
Le livre en lui même est facile à lire, mais souffre de quelques "coquilles" typographiques.
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