This incident is telling: a few years ago George Katsis was hospitalised; the nurses treating him had to ask.
“What’s your name?” Even after he had answered, they told one another: “It’s Charles Bronson”.
This is not uncommon. Throughout his life, George Katsis has had people come to him and point out his remarkable similarity to the late movie star, much to his enjoyment – even his daughter’s schoolmates used to call him “Charlie”.
Originally from a village in Karditsa, Katsis came to Australia in 1970 with his pregnant wife and six-year old son.
He is a beloved and active member of the Greek community, serving in various cultural and sports clubs throughout his life.
His doppelgänger also had a migrant background. Born in the United States to a poor family of Lithuanian immigrants (he was the eleventh of 15 children), Bronson was a World War II veteran who pursued an acting career after the end of his service.
Playing tough guys, gangsters, law enforcers and soldiers throughout his career, he came to fame through his roles in Westerns (such as The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon a Time in the West) and war films (such as The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen), but he became a household name after the international success of the Death Wish series of films, in which he played an archetypal vigilante.
SAVING LIVES AS A PRETEND POLICEMAN
George Katsis is no stranger himself to law enforcement; twice in his lifetime, he has pretended to be a police officer, in order to help people in danger.
Once, while driving his son to work he saw a driver being punched by another person.
“I pulled over and yelled ‘Police!'”, he remembers. “I was driving a red Commodore; that might pass for an undercover cop’s car”. The assailant fled when he saw him.
The other incident took place at the Melbourne Central railway station, where he saw a group of teenagers trying to separate two girls fighting, one of them choking the other.
Once again he yelled “police!” and the group dispersed, leaving the girl unconscious, while her sister was crying. After offering first aid, thanks to a by-standing doctor, they called an ambulance.
But it doesn’t end there. Another time, he saw a young woman lying in a parking area, in a semi-conscious state; he took her to the hospital where the doctors told him that he had saved her life.
Now 78 years old, Katsis had never attempted to contact Bronson (who died in 2003 at the age of 81), something that would be fairly easy today, given the technological advances.
“If he were alive today, I’d send him an email. It would have been nice to know him”.