Charlton Heston, the Academy Award winning actor with the handsome and rough hewn face who later went on to become a fervent 2nd amendment advocate, died Saturday evening at his Beverly Hills residence with his wife Lydia by his side. He was 84 years old.
Heston had been afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, going public with the matter in 2002.
Heston over the course of his acting career would guest star in a slew of early television anthology series, have at least one brief (and ultimately) failed TV show,lent his voice to a handful of documentaries, and acted in over fifty motion pictures over the course of his career.
The Illinois native born John James Carter in 1923, and who fought in World War II served in the U.S Army Air Force during World War II, before entering the world of show business.
He got his start acting on Television shows. Throughout the 1950s he acted on a plethora of television dramatic anthology series such as Play House 90, Studio One, Curtain Call, and General Electric Theater.
In 1952, he first graced the silver screen in Cecile B De Mille’s classic The Greatest Show on Earth.
Throughout the 1950s, Heston would alternate between television and motion pictures. Acting in a chain of films throughout the decade including Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958), and played Mosses in the classic biblical epic “The Ten Commandments” (1956). But it would be his role in another classic epic Ben-Hur that in 1959, would become the crown jewel of his Hollywood career and earn him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading role.
Throughout his career, Heston would play larger then life figures. Everyone from Moses, to John the Baptist, Marc Antony, and even the elusive real-life Nazi war criminal Dr Joseph Mengele.
Heston’s other work included such films as: The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) Planet of the Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1970), Soylent Green (1973), Midway (1976), and True Lies(1995); amongst a myriad of others.
Heston also had a part on several episodes of the 1980s hit prime time soap drama Dynasty. he also had a brief television series of his own at that time, The Colby’s but that series was short lived and soon was canceled.
Heston’s final film role would come in 2003,,was in My Father Rev Algewin 555 (2003), in which he played the sadistic real life Nazi experimentalist Dr Josef Mengele.
However, Heston was known as much for his activities as much as he was for his performances. Especially his involvement with political and social causes, heading the Screen Actor’s Guild Union from 1967-1971. In the early 1960s, Heston marched alongside Dr Martin Luther King Jr and was a staunch proponent of civil rights. He was also opposed to the Vietnam War.
However despite these stands he would align himself with the more politically conservative crowds in the future., Becoming an opponent of abortion, campaigned for Republican candidates, appeared at conservative events, and most of all was a relentless defender of the second amendment and the right to gun ownership.
In 2002, filmmaker Michael Moore in his acclaimed documentary Bowling for Columbine, that took on the gun lobby, sat down for a short tense interview with Moore about his view of guns.
Heston served as president of the National Rifle Association, a political lobbying group that fights against gun control laws and what it perceives as assaults on the second amendment rights of Americans, from 1998 until 2003.
In 2002, in a video tape released to the media, Heston announced publicly that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. In 2004 he was honored with the Congressional medal of Freedom by President George W Bush.
BBC News report on the death of Charlton Heston.
And who could forget this famous scene from “Planet of the Apes”?