Actor Charlton Heston dead, aged 84

US actor Charlton Heston, whose chiselled features and commanding presence won him epic roles from Moses to Michelangelo, died on Saturday night at the age of 84, his family said.

The Oscar-winning Heston, who was also president of the influential National Rifle Association lobbying group, died at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, the family said in a statement.

"To his loving friends, colleagues and fans, we appreciate your heartfelt prayers and support. Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life," the family said.

"No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country. In his own words, 'I have lived such a wonderful life! I've lived enough for two people.'," the statement added.

The family said a private memorial service would be held.

In his heyday, Heston's rugged features and conservative lifestyle seemed to belong to another age. As director Anthony Mann said: "Put a toga on him and he looks perfect." Frank Sinatra once joked: "That guy Heston has to watch it. If he's not careful, he'll get actors a good name."

Between super-spectacles (The 10 Commandments, Ben Hur), science fiction movies (Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green) and disaster epics (Earthquake), Heston pushed for screen versions of Shakespearean plays, directing one, Anthony and Cleopatra.


Heston's most controversial role was not in a movie but as leader of the National Rifle Association, the gun-rights lobby group, from 1998 to 2003. He often stood at the podium at conventions, holding an antique flintlock rifle above his head and telling gun-control advocates they would not get his gun unless they could pry it "from my cold, dead hands."

Born John Charlton Carter (Heston was his stepfather's name) on Oct. 4, 1923, in Evanston, Illinois. He made his theatrical debut as Santa Claus in a school play at age 5 and studied acting at Northwestern University.

After a World War Two stint as a gunner in the Army Air Corps, Heston headed to Broadway, where he briefly supported himself with nude modelling between acting jobs.

In 1944, he had married fellow Northwestern drama student Lydia Clarke and their marriage lasted 64 years until his death.

They had two children, Fraser and Holly Ann. (external - login to view)
One of a very few respectable Hollywood types.
While I agreed with what some of Charlton Heston said and what the did, anyone who uses the popularity of the entertainment industry to further political agenda perpetuates the myth that the "character" some particular role they've been hired to play is demonstrative of their personal character.... Take Ronald Reagan for instance....

It is possible to separate the person from the role but in a culture that has an "entertain-me" IV in its arm this differentiation becomes difficult. Michael Moore used the big screen to futher his agenda and certainly many others have as well, but the more honest and legitimate role of "art" in the world is through inviting consideration of issues and circumstances through providing a metaphor or a alternative perspective as part of a work of performance art, not by using the medium as vehicle for personal agendas.

I liked this actor and that "like" was admiration for his craft, his skills as an actor, for his facility to portray real and imaginary characters as part of a "work". I happen to agree with Heston's position on the Second amendment, but his views on the role and authority of government are simply that his views and his opportunizing on the popularity of his performances on-screen uses that popularity in the wrong domain. I don't applaud Bono or Jane Fonda or any other screen actor for their personal and perhaps moral position on issues, but for their performance and the expertise they bring to their work. Essentially this is dishonest and amounts to flim-flam when people are asked to suspend their critical thinking and personal judgment because someone "famous" suggests they should....
Charlton Heston never played anyone but Charlton Heston and he made a good living at it. I'm afraid he lost a lot of support when he started fronting for the American Rifle Association and showed himself for the red neck he was.
My hubby's comment upon hearing the news... "Oh, so they'll finally be able to get his guns away from him."

Bad, I know. But it made me choke on my coffee with half a laugh nonetheless.

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