Charlton Heston
Overview
Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments (1956 film)
The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American epic film that dramatized the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the Hebrew-born Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince, becomes the deliverer of the Hebrew slaves. The film, released by Paramount Pictures in VistaVision on October 5, 1956, was directed by...

, Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

, El Cid
El Cid (film)
El Cid is a historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in...

, and Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

. He also is well known for his roles in the films The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 drama film set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture...

and Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson...

.

Heston was also known for his political activism. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement.
Quotations

Let me make a short, opening, blanket comment. There are no "good guns". There are no "bad guns". Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.

Interview on Meet the Press (18 May 1997)

You could say that the paparazzi and the tabloids are sort of the "assault weapons" of the First Amendment. They're ugly, a lot of people don't like them, but they're protected by the First Amendment — just as "assault weapons" are protected by the Second Amendment.

Interview Fox News Channel (15 September 1997)

I simply cannot stand by and watch a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States come under attack from those who either can't understand it, don't like the sound of it, or find themselves too philosophically squeamish to see why it remains the first among equals: Because it is the right we turn to when all else fails. That's why the Second Amendment is America's first freedom.

Speech to the National Press Club (14 September 1997)

Now, I doubt any of you would prefer a rolled up newspaper as a weapon against a dictator or a criminal intruder. Yet in essence, that is what you have asked our loved ones to do, through an ill-contrived and totally naive campaign against the Second Amendment.

Speech to the National Press Club (14 September 1997)

I always work on the theory that the audience will believe you best if you believe yourself. This meant that I had to come to understand Moses well enough to believe in my portrayal of him.

Encyclopedia
Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments (1956 film)
The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American epic film that dramatized the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the Hebrew-born Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince, becomes the deliverer of the Hebrew slaves. The film, released by Paramount Pictures in VistaVision on October 5, 1956, was directed by...

, Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

, El Cid
El Cid (film)
El Cid is a historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in...

, and Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

. He also is well known for his roles in the films The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 drama film set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture...

and Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson...

.

Heston was also known for his political activism. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Initially a moderate Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, he later supported conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 policies and was president of the National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America is an American non-profit 501 civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection...

 from 1998 to 2003.

Early years

Heston was born John Charles Carter, the only child of Lila (née
Married and maiden names
A married name is the family name adopted by a person upon marriage. When a person assumes the family name of her spouse, the new name replaces the maiden name....

 Charlton; 1899–1994) and Russell Whitford Carter (1897–1966), a mill operator
Miller
A miller usually refers to a person who operates a mill, a machine to grind a cereal crop to make flour. Milling is among the oldest of human occupations. "Miller", "Milne" and other variants are common surnames, as are their equivalents in other languages around the world...

. Most sources state that he was born in Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

. Heston's autobiography, however, and some other sources place his birth in No Man's Land, Illinois
No Man's Land, Illinois
No Man's Land, Illinois was never an official place name, but has been used to refer to at least two areas that fit the broader meaning of No man's land.-Wilmette:...

, which usually refers to a then-unincorporated area now part of Wilmette
Wilmette, Illinois
Wilmette is a village in New Trier Township, Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is located north of Chicago's downtown district and has a population of 27,651. Wilmette is considered a bedroom community in the North Shore district...

, a wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Heston said in a 1995 interview that he was not very good at remembering addresses or his early childhood.

Heston was of English and Scottish descent and was a member of the Fraser clan.

In his autobiography, Heston refers to his father participating in his family's construction business. When Heston was an infant his father's work moved the family to St. Helen, Michigan
St. Helen, Michigan
St. Helen is an unincorporated community in Richfield Township, Roscommon County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a census-designated place for statistical purposes and has no legal status as an incorporated municipality. The population was 2,993 at the 2000 census...

. It was a rural, heavily forested part of the state, and Heston lived an isolated yet idyllic existence spending much time hunting and fishing in the backwoods of the area.

When Heston was 10 years old, his parents divorced. Shortly thereafter, his mother married Chester Heston. The new family moved back to Wilmette. Heston (his new surname) attended New Trier High School
New Trier High School
New Trier High School is a public four-year high school , with its major campus located in Winnetka, Illinois, USA, and a second campus in Northfield, Illinois, with freshman classes and district administration...

.

Throughout Heston's life he was known by friends as "Chuck" although his wife always called him "Charlie." His stage name Charlton Heston is drawn from his mother's maiden surname (Charlton) and his stepfather's surname (Heston), and was used for his first film, Peer Gynt.

Career

Heston frequently recounted that, while growing up in northern Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 in a sparsely populated area, he often wandered in the forest, "acting" out the characters from books he had read. Later, in high school, Heston enrolled in New Trier's drama program, playing in the silent 16 mm amateur film adaptation of Peer Gynt, from the Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of prose drama" and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre...

 play
Peer Gynt
Peer Gynt is a five-act play in verse by the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, loosely based on the fairy tale Per Gynt. It is the most widely performed Norwegian play. According to Klaus Van Den Berg, the "cinematic script blends poetry with social satire and realistic scenes with surreal ones"...

, by future film activist David Bradley
David Bradley (director)
David Shedd Bradley was an American motion picture director, actor, film collector, and university instructor....

 released in 1941. From the Winnetka Community Theatre (Or, the Winnetka Dramatist's Guild as it was then known) in which he was active, he earned a drama scholarship to Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

. Several years later Heston teamed up with Bradley to produce the first sound version of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (1950 film)
Julius Caesar is a 1950 film adaptation of the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. It was produced and directed by David Bradley using actors from the Chicago area. Charlton Heston, who had known Bradley since his youth, and who was establishing himself in television and theater in New York, played...

, in which Heston played Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

.

World War II service

In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

. He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner
Air gunner
An air gunner a.k.a. aerial gunner is a member of an air force aircrew who operates flexible-mount or turret-mounted machine guns or autocannons in an aircraft...

 aboard a B-25 Mitchell
B-25 Mitchell
The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.The B-25 was named...

 stationed in the Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

n Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force
Eleventh Air Force
The Eleventh Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces . It is headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska....

. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. Heston married Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

 student Lydia Marie Clarke
Lydia Clarke
Lydia Marie Clarke is an American actress and the widow of Academy Award-winning actor Charlton Heston.She was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. She married Charlton Heston on March 17, 1944, and their marriage lasted for 64 years until his death on April 5, 2008. They had two children: Fraser Clarke...

 in the same year he joined the military. After his service and rise to fame, Heston was chosen as a narrator
Narrator
A narrator is, within any story , the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for...

 for highly classified
Classified
Classified may refer to:*Classified information, sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular classes of people*Classified advertising*Classified , rapper from Halifax, Nova Scotia...

 Military and Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 instructional films, particularly relating to nuclear weapons, and "for six years Heston [held] the nation's highest security clearance" or Q clearance
Q clearance
Q clearance is a United States Department of Energy security clearance equivalent to a United States Department of Defense Top Secret clearance and Critical Nuclear Weapon Design Information . DOE clearances apply for access specifically relating to atomic or nuclear related materials...

."

Theater and television

After the war, Heston and Clarke lived in Hell's Kitchen
Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan
Hell's Kitchen, also known as Clinton and Midtown West, is a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City between 34th Street and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River....

, New York City, where they worked as artists' models. Seeking a way to make it in theater, Heston and his wife Lydia decided to manage a playhouse in Asheville, North Carolina in 1947. They made $100 a week on the job. In 1948, they went back to New York where Heston was offered a supporting role in a Broadway revival of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony...

, starring Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York.Cornell is known as the greatest American stage actress of the 20th century...

. Heston had success in television, playing a number of roles in CBS's Studio One, one of the most popular anthology dramas of the 1950s. Film producer Hal B. Wallis
Hal B. Wallis
Hal B. Wallis was an American film producer.-Career:Harold Brent Wallis was born in Chicago in 1898. His family moved in 1922 to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as part of the publicity department at Warner Bros...

 of Casablanca
Casablanca (film)
Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in...

spotted Heston in a 1950 television production of Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights is a novel by Emily Brontë published in 1847. It was her only novel and written between December 1845 and July 1846. It remained unpublished until July 1847 and was not printed until December after the success of her sister Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre...

and offered him a contract. When his wife reminded Heston they had decided to pursue theater and television, he replied, "Well, maybe just for one film to see what it's like."

Heston's most frequently played roles on stage include the title role in Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

, Sir Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

 in A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons
A Man for All Seasons is a play by Robert Bolt. An early form of the play had been written for BBC Radio in 1954, and a one-hour live television version starring Bernard Hepton was produced in 1957 by the BBC, but after Bolt's success with The Flowering Cherry, he reworked it for the stage.It was...

, and Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 in Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (play)
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, also known simply as Julius Caesar, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against...

and Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony...

.

In 1995, Heston starred with Peter Graves
Peter Graves
Peter Graves may refer to:* Peter Graves , American actor* Peter Graves, 8th Baron Graves , English actor and peer* Peter Graves , English cricketer...

, Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney is an American film actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances span nearly his entire lifetime. He has won multiple awards, including an Honorary Academy Award, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award...

 and Deborah Winters
Deborah Winters
Deborah Winters is an American actress and businesswoman. Winters is probably most remembered for her roles in Kotch, The People Next Door, Class of '44, and The Winds of War...

 in the Warren Chaney
Warren Chaney
Warren Herbert Chaney, Ph.D. is an American executive, author, filmmaker, behavioral scientist, entertainer, businessman and a pioneer in early television. In a career spanning four decades, Chaney wrote fifteen books, fourteen screenplays, and seventy-eight professional and nonprofessional...

 docudrama
Docudrama
In film, television programming and staged theatre, docudrama is a documentary-style genre that features dramatized re-enactments of actual historical events. As a neologism, the term is often confused with docufiction....

, America: A Call to Greatness
America: A Call to Greatness
America: A Call to Greatness is a 1995 docudrama feature from Paige-Brace Cinema, chronicling United States history from its inception through the 20th century. It stars Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, Deborah Winters, Peter Graves, Jane Russell, and Rita Moreno among others and was written,...

. Then in 1998, he had a cameo role, playing himself, on the American television series Friends
Friends
Friends is an American sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994 to May 6, 2004. The series revolves around a group of friends in Manhattan. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television...

, in The One with Joey's Dirty Day.

Hollywood

Heston earned recognition for his appearance in his first professional movie, Dark City
Dark City (1950 film)
Dark City is a 1950 film noir. The casting of Charlton Heston—in his first Hollywood film appearance—as a petty hood is unusual in light of his subsequent career. The film also features Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, who both went on to co-star in Dragnet. The musical score was composed by Franz...

, a 1950 film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

. His breakthrough came when Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies...

 cast him as a circus manager in The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth
The Greatest Show on Earth is a 1952 drama film set in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was produced, directed, and narrated by Cecil B. DeMille, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture...

, which was named by the Motion Picture Academy as the best picture of 1952. In 1953, Heston was Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder was an Austro-Hungarian born American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist, and journalist, whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood's golden age...

's first choice to play Sefton in Stalag 17
Stalag 17
Stalag 17 is a 1953 war film which tells the story of a group of American airmen held in a German World War II prisoner of war camp, who come to suspect that one of their number is a traitor...

. However, the role was given to William Holden
William Holden
William Holden was an American actor. Holden won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1954 and the Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1974...

, who won an Oscar
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 for it. Heston became an icon for portraying Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 in the hugely successful film The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments (1956 film)
The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American epic film that dramatized the biblical story of the Exodus, in which the Hebrew-born Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince, becomes the deliverer of the Hebrew slaves. The film, released by Paramount Pictures in VistaVision on October 5, 1956, was directed by...

(1956), reportedly being chosen by director Cecil B. DeMille because he thought the muscular, 6 ft 3 in, square jawed Heston bore an uncanny resemblance to Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

's statue of Moses
Moses (Michelangelo)
The Moses is a sculpture by the Italian High Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome...

. In 1958, Heston played a Mexican police officer named Ramon Miguel Vargas in Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

's widely acclaimed film noir Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson...

.

After Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St...

, Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

 and Rock Hudson
Rock Hudson
Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald , known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in several romantic comedies with Doris Day.Hudson was voted "Star of the Year",...

 turned down the title role of Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

(1959), Heston accepted the role, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

, one of the unprecedented eleven Oscars the film earned. After Moses and Ben-Hur, Heston was identified with Biblical epics more than any other actor. He voiced the role of a cartoon version of the Lew Wallace
Lew Wallace
Lewis "Lew" Wallace was an American lawyer, Union general in the American Civil War, territorial governor and statesman, politician and author...

 novel in 2003.

Heston played leading roles in a number of fictional and historical epics: El Cid
El Cid (film)
El Cid is a historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in...

(1961), 55 Days at Peking
55 Days at Peking
55 Days at Peking is a 1963 historical epic film starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven, made by Samuel Bronston Productions, and released by Allied Artists. The movie was produced by Samuel Bronston and directed by Nicholas Ray, Andrew Marton , and Guy Green...

(1963), as Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 in The Agony and the Ecstasy
The Agony and the Ecstasy (film)
The Agony and the Ecstasy is a 1965 film directed by Carol Reed, starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II. The film was partly based on Irving Stone's biographical novel of the same name. This film deals with the conflicts of Michelangelo and Pope Julius II...

(1965), and Khartoum
Khartoum (film)
Khartoum is a 1966 film written by Robert Ardrey and directed by Basil Dearden. It stars Charlton Heston as General Gordon and Laurence Olivier as the Mahdi and is based on Gordon's defence of the Sudanese city of Khartoum from the forces of the Mahdist army during the Siege of Khartoum.Khartoum...

(1966). Heston also played the eponymous role in the western movie, Will Penny
Will Penny
Will Penny is a 1968 western film directed by Tom Gries starring Charlton Heston and Donald Pleasence. It was based upon an episode of the 1960 Sam Peckinpah television series The Westerner called "Line Camp," which was also written and directed by Tom Gries...

(1968).

In 1965, Heston became president of the Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild
The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

. He remained in the position until 1971, the second longest tenure to date in that office.

In 1968, Heston starred in Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

and in 1970, he was in a smaller supporting role in the sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a 1970 American science fiction film directed by Ted Post and written by Paul Dehn. It is the second of five films in the original Planet of the Apes series produced by Arthur P. Jacobs...

. Also in 1970, Heston portrayed Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 again in another film version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (1970 film)
Julius Caesar is a 1970 independent film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play, directed by Stuart Burge from a screenplay by Robert Furnival. The film stars Charlton Heston , Jason Robards and John Gielgud . It is the first film version of the play made in color...

. His co-stars included Jason Robards
Jason Robards
Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was an American actor on stage, and in film and television, and a winner of the Tony Award , two Academy Awards and the Emmy Award...

 as Brutus, Richard Chamberlain
Richard Chamberlain
George Richard Chamberlain is an American actor of stage and screen who became a teen idol in the title role of the television show Dr. Kildare .-Early life:...

 as Octavius, Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn
Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in...

 as Casca, and English actors Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson (actor)
Richard Johnson is an English actor, writer and producer, who starred in several British films of the 1960s and has also had a distinguished stage career. He most recently appeared in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.-Life and career:...

 as Cassius, John Gielgud
John Gielgud
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

 as Caesar, and Diana Rigg
Diana Rigg
Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg, DBE is an English actress. She is probably best known for her portrayals of Emma Peel in The Avengers and Countess Teresa di Vicenzo in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service....

 as Portia. In 1971, he starred in the science fiction film, The Omega Man
The Omega Man
The Omega Man is a 1971 American science fiction film directed by Boris Sagal and starring Charlton Heston. It is based on the novel I Am Legend by American writer Richard Matheson...

. Although critically panned, the film is now considered a classic of apocalyptic horror. In 1972, Heston made his directorial debut, and starred, as Mark Antony in an adaptation of the William Shakespeare play he performed earlier in his theater career, Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra (1972 film)
Antony and Cleopatra is a 1972 film adaptation of the play of the same name by William Shakespeare made by the Rank Organisation. It was directed by Charlton Heston and produced by Peter Snell from a screenplay by Federico De Urrutia and the director....

. Hildegarde Neil
Hildegarde Neil
Hildegarde Neil is an English actress.She first appeared on television in a BBC schools' television production of Julius Caesar in 1963 and after that appeared mostly as a guest artiste in a variety of TV series over the last 40 years...

 was Cleopatra, and English actor Eric Porter
Eric Porter
Eric Richard Porter was an English actor of stage, film and television.-Early life:Porter was born in Shepherd's Bush, London, to Richard John Porter and Phoebe Elizabeth Spall...

 was Enobarbus. After receiving scathing reviews, the film never went to theaters, and rarely turns up on television. It was finally released on DVD in March, 2011. He subsequently starred in successful films such as Soylent Green
Soylent Green
Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleischer. Starring Charlton Heston, the film overlays the police procedural and science fiction genres as it depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future suffering from pollution,...

(1973) and Earthquake
Earthquake (film)
Earthquake is a 1974 American disaster film that achieved huge box-office success, continuing the disaster film genre of the 1970s where recognizable all-star casts attempt to survive life or death situations...

(1974).

Beginning with playing Cardinal Richelieu in 1973's The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (1973 film)
The Three Musketeers is a 1973 film based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by Richard Lester and written by George MacDonald Fraser . It was originally proposed in the 1960s as a vehicle for The Beatles, whom Lester had directed in two other films...

, Heston was seen in an increasing number of supporting roles, cameos and theater. From 1985 to 1987, he starred in his only prime-time stint on series television with the soap, The Colbys
The Colbys
The Colbys is an American prime time soap opera, which originally aired on ABC from November 20, 1985 to March 26, 1987. The Aaron Spelling-produced series was a spin-off of Dynasty, which had been the highest rated series for the 1984-1985 U.S. television season...

. With his son Fraser, he produced and also starred in several TV movies, including remakes of Treasure Island
Treasure Island (1990 film)
Treasure Island is a 1990 film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous 1883 novel Treasure Island. It was filmed in 1989 on location in Cornwall, England, and in Jamaica, and also at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England....

and A Man For All Seasons. In 1992, Heston appeared in a short series of videos on the A&E cable network reading passages from the King James Version of the Bible, called Charlton Heston Presents the Bible. It was filmed in the Middle East and received excellent reviews, achieving great success on video and DVD. Never taking himself too seriously, he appeared in 1993 in a cameo role in Wayne's World 2
Wayne's World 2
Wayne's World 2 is a 1993 comedy film starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as hosts of a Public-access television cable TV show from Aurora, Illinois. The film was adapted from a sketch on NBC's Saturday Night Live and is the sequel to Wayne's World....

(in a scene wherein main character Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers
Mike Myers (actor)
Michael John "Mike" Myers is a Canadian actor, comedian, screenwriter, and film producer of British parentage...

) requests that a small role be filled by a better actor). After the scene is reshot with Heston, Campbell weeps in awe. That same year, Heston hosted Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. He had cameos in the films Hamlet
Hamlet (1996 film)
Hamlet is a 1996 film version of William Shakespeare's classic play of the same name, adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the title role as Prince Hamlet...

,
Tombstone
Tombstone (film)
Tombstone is a 1993 American action film set in the Old West directed by George P. Cosmatos, along with uncredited directorial efforts by actor Kurt Russell and writer Kevin Jarre. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Jarre....

and True Lies
True Lies
True Lies is a 1994 American action-comedy film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Charlton Heston, and Art Malik. Eliza Dushku also appears in the film in one of her first major film roles...

. He starred in many theatre productions at the Los Angeles Music Center
Los Angeles Music Center
The Music Center is one of the three largest performing arts centers in the nation. Located in downtown Los Angeles, the Music Center is home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theater, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall...

 where he appeared in such plays as Detective Story
Detective Story (play)
Detective Story is a 1949 play in three acts by American playwright Sidney Kingsley. The play opened on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre on March 23, 1949 where it played until the production moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on July 3, 1950. The production closed on August 12, 1950 after 581 ...

, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,
and as Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

 in The Crucifer of Blood
The Crucifer of Blood
The Crucifer of Blood is a play by Paul Giovanni that is adapted from the Arthur Conan Doyle story The Sign of the Four. It depicts the character Irene St...

opposite Jeremy Brett
Jeremy Brett
Jeremy Brett , born Peter Jeremy William Huggins, was an English actor, most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in four Granada TV series.-Early life:...

 as Dr. Watson, later winning acclaim for his interpretation of the famous detective in a television version. In 2001, Heston made a cameo appearance as an elderly, dying chimpanzee in Tim Burton
Tim Burton
Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

's remake of Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (2001 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 2001 American science fiction film, based on Pierre Boulle's novel and a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. Tim Burton directed the film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, and Estella Warren. It tells the...

. Heston's last film role was as the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

 in My Father, Rua Alguem 5555, which had limited release (mainly to festivals) in 2003.

Heston's distinctive voice had also landed him roles as a film narrator, including Armageddon and Disney's Hercules
Hercules (1997 film)
Hercules is a 1997 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker...

.

Heston played the title role in Mister Roberts
Mister Roberts (play)
Mister Roberts is a 1948 play based on the 1946 Thomas Heggen novel of the same name.The novel began as a collection of short stories about Heggen's experiences aboard the USS Virgo in the South Pacific during World War II...

three times and cited it as one of his favorite roles. In the early '90s, he tried unsuccessfully to revive and direct the show with Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck
Thomas William "Tom" Selleck is an American actor, and film producer. He is best known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television show Magnum, P.I.. He also plays Police Chief Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on the Robert B....

 in the title role.

Political activism

Heston campaigned for Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 in 1960. Reportedly, when an Oklahoma movie theater premiering his movie El Cid was segregated, he joined a picket line outside in 1961. Heston makes no reference to this in his autobiography, but describes traveling to Oklahoma City
Oklahoma city
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.Oklahoma City may also refer to:*Oklahoma City metropolitan area*Downtown Oklahoma City*Uptown Oklahoma City*Oklahoma City bombing*Oklahoma City National Memorial...

 to picket segregated restaurants, much to the chagrin of Allied Artists, the producers of El Cid. During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 held in Washington, D.C. in 1963, he accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. In later speeches, Heston said he helped the civil rights cause "long before Hollywood found it fashionable."

Following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Heston and actors Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

, Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas is an American stage and film actor, film producer and author. His popular films include Out of the Past , Champion , Ace in the Hole , The Bad and the Beautiful , Lust for Life , Paths of Glory , Gunfight at the O.K...

 and James Stewart
James Stewart (actor)
James Maitland Stewart was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive voice and his everyman persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics and was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime...

 issued a statement calling for support of President Johnson's Gun Control Act of 1968
Gun Control Act of 1968
The Gun Control Act of 1968 , by president Lyndon Johnson, is a federal law in the United States that broadly regulates the firearms industry and firearms owners...

. He opposed the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 during its course (though he changed his opinion in the years following the war) and in 1969 was approached by the Democratic Party to run for the U.S. Senate. He agonized over the decision and ultimately determined he could never give up acting. He is reported to have voted for Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 in 1972, though Nixon is unmentioned in his autobiography.

By the 1980s, Heston opposed affirmative action, supported gun rights and changed his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican. When asked why he changed political alliances, Heston replied "I didn't change. The Democratic party changed." He campaigned for Republicans and Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

.

Heston resigned from Actors Equity, claiming the union's refusal to allow a white actor to play a Eurasian role in Miss Saigon
Miss Saigon
Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr.. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover...

was "obscenely racist". He said CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

's telecasts from Baghdad were "sowing doubts" about the allied effort in the 1990–91 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

.

At a Time Warner
Time Warner
Time Warner is one of the world's largest media companies, headquartered in the Time Warner Center in New York City. Formerly two separate companies, Warner Communications, Inc...

 stockholders' meeting, Heston castigated the company for releasing an Ice-T
ICE-T
* Ice-T, an American rapper and actor* ICE T , a tilting model of the German InterCityExpress series of high-speed trains...

 album which included the song "Cop Killer", which depicted the killing of police officers.

While filming The Savage
The Savage
The Savage is a 1952 Western film directed by George Marshall and starring Charlton Heston. Much of the film was shot in the Black Hills of South Dakota.-Plot synopsis:...

, Heston was initiated by blood into the Miniconjou
Miniconjou
The Miniconjou are a Native American people constituting a subdivision of the Lakota Sioux, who formerly inhabited an area from the Black Hills in South Dakota to the Platte River. The contemporary population lives mostly in west-central South Dakota...

 Lakota Nation, but claimed no natural American Indian
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 heritage. He claimed to be "native American" to reclaim the term from exclusion to American Indians.

In a 1997 Fighting the Culture War in America speech, Heston rhetorically deplored a culture war
Culture war
The culture war in American usage is a metaphor used to claim that political conflict is based on sets of conflicting cultural values. The term frequently implies a conflict between those values considered traditionalist or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal...

 he said was being conducted by a generation of media, educators, entertainers and politicians against:


"...the God fearing, law-abiding, Caucasian, middle-class Protestant – or even worse, evangelical Christian, Midwestern or Southern – or even worse, rural, apparently straight – or even worse, admitted heterosexuals, gun-owning – or even worse, NRA-card-carrying, average working stiff – or even worse, male working stiff – because, not only don’t you count, you are a down-right obstacle to social progress. Your voice deserves a lower decibel level, your opinion is less enlightened, your media access is insignificant, and frankly, mister, you need to wake up, wise up, and learn a little something from your new-America and until you do, would you mind shutting up?"


He went on:

"The Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 was handed down to guide us by a bunch of wise old dead white guys who invented our country! Now some flinch when I say that. Why! It's true-they were white guys! So were most of the guys that died in Lincoln's name opposing slavery in the 1860s. So why should I be ashamed of white guys? Why is "Hispanic Pride" or "Black Pride
Black pride
Black pride is a slogan indicating pride in being black. Related movements include black nationalism and Afrocentrism.The slogan has been used in the United States by African Americans to celebrate heritage and personal pride. The black pride movement is closely linked with the developments of the...

" a good thing, while "White Pride
White pride
White pride is a slogan indicating pride in being white. The slogan has been adopted by neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations.White pride advocates claim that there is a cultural double standard in which only certain ethnic groups are permitted to openly express pride in their heritage, and...

" conjures shaven heads and white hoods? Why was the Million Man March
Million Man March
The Million Man March was a gathering of social activists, en masse, held on and around the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995...

 on Washington celebrated by many as progress, while the Promise Keepers March on Washington was greeted with suspicion and ridicule? I’ll tell you why: Cultural warfare!"


In an address to students at Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 entitled Winning the Cultural War, Heston said, "If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

's boys – subjects bound to the British crown."

He said to the students:

"You are the best and the brightest. You, here in this fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River. You are the cream. But I submit that you and your counterparts across the land are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide it, you are, by your grandfathers' standards, cowards."


Heston later stated, "Political correctness is tyranny with manners."

In a speech to the National Press Club in 1997, Heston said, "Now, I doubt any of you would prefer a rolled up newspaper as a weapon against a dictator or a criminal intruder."

Heston was the president and spokesman of the NRA
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America is an American non-profit 501 civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection...

 from 1998 until he resigned in 2003. At the 2000 NRA convention, he raised a rifle over his head and declared that a potential Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 administration would take away his Second Amendment
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

 rights "from my cold, dead hands". In announcing his resignation in 2003, he again raised a rifle over his head, repeating the five famous words of his 2000 speech. He was an honorary life member.

In the 2002 film Bowling for Columbine
Bowling for Columbine
Bowling for Columbine is a 2002 documentary film written, directed, produced, and narrated by Michael Moore. The film explores what Michael Moore suggests are the causes for the Columbine High School massacre and other acts of violence with guns...

, Michael Moore
Michael Moore
Michael Francis Moore is an American filmmaker, author, social critic and activist. He is the director and producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, which is the highest-grossing documentary of all time. His films Bowling for Columbine and Sicko also place in the top ten highest-grossing documentaries...

 interviewed Heston in his home, asking him about an April 1999 NRA meeting held shortly after the Columbine high school massacre
Columbine High School massacre
The Columbine High School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County, Colorado, United States, near Denver and Littleton. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a massacre, killing 12...

, in Denver, Colorado. Moore criticized Heston for the perceived thoughtlessness in the timing and location of the meeting. Heston, on-camera, excused himself and walked out. Moore was later criticized for his perceived ambush.

Actor George Clooney
George Clooney
George Timothy Clooney is an American actor, film director, producer, and screenwriter. For his work as an actor, he has received two Golden Globe Awards and an Academy Award...

 joked about Heston's failing health at a 2003 National Board of Review award ceremony, saying that Heston "announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's." When questioned, Clooney said Heston deserved whatever was said about him for his involvement with the NRA. Heston responded by saying Clooney lacked class, and said he felt sorry for Clooney, as Clooney had as much of a chance of developing Alzheimer's as anyone else.

In April 2003 Heston sent a message of support to US forces in the Iraq war, attacking opponents of the war as "pretend patriots".

Heston opposed abortion and gave the introduction to a 1987 pro-life documentary by Bernard Nathanson
Bernard Nathanson
Bernard N. Nathanson was an American medical doctor from New York who helped to found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, but later became a pro-life activist.-Early life and education:...

 called Eclipse of Reason
Eclipse of Reason
Eclipse of Reason is a 1987 documentary video about abortion directed, filmed, and narrated by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, with an introduction by Charlton Heston. Eclipse of Reason is a follow up to Nathanson’s first film The Silent Scream...

which focuses on late-term abortions. Heston served on the Advisory Board of Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media
Accuracy In Media is an American, non-profit news media watchdog founded in 1969 by economist Reed Irvine. AIM describes itself as "a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that...

, a conservative media watchdog group founded by Reed Irvine
Reed Irvine
Reed Irvine was an economist who founded the media watchdog organization Accuracy in Media, and remained its head for 35 years....

.

Later life and death

In 1996, Heston had a hip replacement
Hip replacement
Hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant. Hip replacement surgery can be performed as a total replacement or a hemi replacement. Such joint replacement orthopaedic surgery generally is conducted to relieve arthritis pain or fix severe...

. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer
Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers. The cancer cells may metastasize from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly...

 in 1998. Following a course of radiation treatment
Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy , radiation oncology, or radiotherapy , sometimes abbreviated to XRT or DXT, is the medical use of ionizing radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control malignant cells.Radiation therapy is commonly applied to the cancerous tumor because of its ability to control...

, the cancer went into remission. In 2000, he publicly disclosed that he had been treated for alcoholism at a Utah clinic in May–June of that year. On August 9, 2002, Heston publicly announced he was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

.
In July 2003, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 from President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

. In March 2005, various newspapers reported that family and friends were shocked by the progression of his illness, and that he was sometimes unable to get out of bed.

Heston died on April 5, 2008, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, with Lydia, his wife of 64 years, by his side. He was also survived by his son, Fraser Clarke Heston
Fraser Clarke Heston
Fraser Clarke Heston is an American film director, film producer, screenwriter and actor. The son of actors Charlton Heston and Lydia Clarke, Fraser Clarke Heston was born in Los Angeles, California....

, and daughter, Holly Ann Heston. The cause of death was not disclosed by the family. Heston's family released a statement, reading:
Early tributes came in from leading figures; President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 called Heston "a man of character and integrity, with a big heart", adding, "He served his country during World War II, marched in the civil rights movement, led a labor union and vigorously defended Americans’ Second Amendment rights." Former First Lady Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

 said that she was "heartbroken" over Heston's death and released a statement, reading, "I will never forget Chuck as a hero on the big screen in the roles he played, but more importantly I considered him a hero in life for the many times that he stepped up to support Ronnie
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 in whatever he was doing."

Heston's funeral was held a week later on April 12, 2008, in a ceremony which was attended by 250 people including Nancy Reagan
Nancy Reagan
Nancy Davis Reagan is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989....

 and Hollywood stars such as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

, Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia Mary de Havilland is a British American film and stage actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946 and 1949. She is the elder sister of actress Joan Fontaine. The sisters are among the last surviving leading ladies from Hollywood of the 1930s.-Early life:Olivia de Havilland...

, Keith Carradine
Keith Carradine
Keith Ian Carradine is an American actor who has had success on stage, film and television. In addition, he is a Golden Globe and Oscar winning songwriter. As a member of the Carradine family, he is part of an acting "dynasty" that began with his father, John Carradine.-Early life:Keith...

, Pat Boone
Pat Boone
Charles Eugene "Pat" Boone is an American singer, actor and writer who has been a successful pop singer in the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s. He covered black artists' songs and sold more copies than his black counterparts...

, Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck
Thomas William "Tom" Selleck is an American actor, and film producer. He is best known for his starring role as Hawaii-based private investigator Thomas Magnum on the 1980s television show Magnum, P.I.. He also plays Police Chief Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies based on the Robert B....

, Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

, Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner
Robert "Rob" Reiner is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and political activist.As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence as Archie and Edith Bunker's son-in-law, Michael "Meathead" Stivic, on All in the Family. That role earned him two Emmy Awards during the 1970s...

, and Christian Bale
Christian Bale
Christian Charles Philip Bale is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses....

.

The funeral was held at Episcopal Parish of St. Matthew's Church in Pacific Palisades, California
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California
Pacific Palisades is an affluent neighborhood and district within the U.S. city of Los Angeles, California, located among Brentwood to the east, Malibu and Topanga to the west, Santa Monica to the southeast, the Santa Monica Bay to the southwest, and the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. The...

, the church where Heston regularly worshipped and attended Sunday services since the early 1980s. He was cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

 and his ashes were given to his family.

Legacy

Richard Corliss
Richard Corliss
Richard Nelson Corliss is a writer for Time magazine who focuses on movies, with the occasional article on music or sports. Corliss is the former editor-in-chief of Film Comment...

 wrote in TIME magazine, "From start to finish, Heston was a grand, ornery anachronism, the sinewy symbol of a time when Hollywood took itself seriously, when heroes came from history books, not comic books. Epics like Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

or El Cid
El Cid (film)
El Cid is a historical epic film, a romanticized story of the life of the Christian Castilian knight Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, called "El Cid" who in the 11th century fought the North African Almoravides and ultimately contributed to the unification of Spain.Made by Samuel Bronston Productions in...

simply couldn't be made today, in part because popular culture has changed as much as political fashion. But mainly because there's no one remotely like Charlton Heston to infuse the form with his stature, fire and guts."

In his obituary for the actor, film critic Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

 noted "Heston made at least three movies that almost everybody eventually sees: Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes."

Heston's cinematic legacy was the subject of Cinematic Atlas: The Triumphs of Charlton Heston, an eleven-film retrospective by the Film Society
Film Society of Lincoln Center
The Film Society of Lincoln Center based in New York City, United States, is one of the world's most prominent film presentation organizations. Founded in 1969 by three Lincoln Center executives - William F. May, Martin E. Segal and Schuyler G...

 of the Lincoln Center that was shown at the Walter Reade Theater from August 29 to September 4, 2008.

On April 17, 2010, Heston was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Hall of Great Western Performers.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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