Remembering Charlton Heston

Posted on April 6, 2008 at 8:00 am

Ben-Hur_chariot_race.jpgCharlton Heston, who died this morning at age 84, had the screen presence for larger than life, heroic roles, and often appeared in films with religious themes. He will be best remembered for his Oscar-winning performance as Ben-Hur and for appearing as Moses in The Ten Commandments. He also played John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told. Heston created audio recordings of the Bible and provided voice talent for a series of animated Bible stories for children.

I am especially fond of his performance in the brilliant Touch of Evil as a policeman who lives on the border, literally and metaphorically, and in a rare romantic comedy, “The Private War of Major Benson.” Whether he was leading a circus (The Greatest Show on Earth) or a stranded team of astronauts (Planet of the Apes) or even trying to survive as the last man on earth (The Omega Man), his conviction and commitment made him the essence of a movie star.

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13 Replies to “Remembering Charlton Heston”

  1. Heston said he was picked for the 10 Commandments because DeMille thought he looked like Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses. The studio circulated publicity stills of Heston’s profile in front of the sculpture.
    Heston’s life should be a warning for actors who get too actively involved in politics. After a great acting career, he ended up as an angry, truculent advocate for gun extremists. When you see his last film appearances (like his Michael Moore segment), it was clear that old Ben Hur was already losing it mentally. It was just sad, and his family should have had the good taste to coax him away from the cameras.

  2. Yeah, kind of ironic, to say the least, that someone who supposedly has children’s interests at heart would celebrate someone whose NRA lobbying and activities probably led to more real-life unnecessary deaths and injuries than she realizes.
    I am a firm believer is looking at the “big picture” when it comes to celebrities. Take for example, former NFL player Nick Buonicotti. When his own son suffered a paralyzing injury playing college football, Buonicotti used his fame and connections to start the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Good works, indeed. But Buonicotti also headed U.S Tobacco, seller of “smokeless tobacco,” a product responsible for untold misery and death. He also tried to question studies linking smokeless tobacco to cancer. So, when it comes time for Nick’s final ledger, all the good he did, unfortunately, will be more than outweighed by the cancer and death he helped promote, and if there is a Hell, I am afraid Ole Nick has a spot reserved and waiting.

  3. Thanks for posting, Iorek and FaithDefender. I do not agree with the positions Heston took on behalf of the NRA. But I do not believe that means we should overlook the fine and inspiring art that he helped to create. As Don Marquis said, “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.” Just because Hitler was a vegetarian does not make everyone who is a vegetarian evil. Just because Wagner or Rilke were awful to everyone around them does not mean I won’t listen to Wagner’s music or read Rilke’s poems. Yes, it is reprehensible that Nick Buinicotti tries to sell a despicable product. But that does not mean that the good works he supports are less worthy.
    I have children’s interests at heart. And sometimes those interests include seeing movies made by people who are not perfect — which gives us a chance for conversation not just about the themes and incidents in the film but also about some of the complexities and nuances of life, art, and politics.

  4. The NRA champions freedom and the ability to keep it. No different than Jefferson and Lincoln. Charlton Heston represented a life worth living and a life that could be lived. How many victims of Genocide in Darfur wouldn’t be victims if they had the right to keep and bear arms against that hordes of enemies that are bent on destroying them. It appeared that Heston’s mind worked very well when it was healthy. Thankfully he decided to follow the founders of America rather than followers of Marxism and progressive politics hell-bent to make us all submit to a coillective will. Freedom means freedom. Thank you Mr. Heston.

  5. Thanks for the post, Freedom! People on all sides try to make others submit to what they think is freedom and others think of as imposing a collective will. But I appreciate your point of view and thank you for sharing. Are you a fan of Heston’s film work, too?

  6. Yes, he was more than an advocate for ‘extremists.’ While I didn’t agree with all of the NRA, it was nothing less than fighting against a movement in society that said, “So what if the Bill of Rights guarantees it, we don’t like it, it’s time to change it.’ Dangerous stuff. I don’t own a gun, but I am glad Heston and others stood against tearing apart the Bill of Rights. I also don’t think he was ‘angry’, though the Left typically portrayed him as such (as they do anyone who disagrees). But more than that, he was an actor, and a person. A deep and passionate person from a time when you stood behind a cause and championed it, no questions asked. His persona on screen was reflected by his passion off screen. Any other actor playing Moses wouldn’t have looked the same, because you know Heston was really that resolute. We watched the 10 Commandments last night as a tribute. It is one more step in marking the end of an era that had much to offer. Fair well Charlton.

  7. Whenever I’ve seen him interviewed in recent years, Heston has always been quite charming and self-deprecating, and of course, he starred in several camp sci-fi classics, including “Planet of the Apes,” and “Soylent Green.”
    As for his acting, I always envisioned a “dueling hams” contest between Heston and William Shatner (Shatner would win, but it would be very, very close).
    I’ve seen “The Ten Commandments” more times than I can count. Compared to Anne Baxter’s excessive, corny, campy emoting in that movie, Heston’s performance was actually restrained.
    As for his politics, I’m pro-gun control, but I could never approve of someone like the tacky Michael Moore taking advantage of an Alzheimer’s patient. Good grief! Well, blessings to Mr. Heston.

  8. Movie Mom, I’m putting “Touch of Evil” on our Netflix list. I’ve never seen it. Thank you.

  9. I was a fan of Heston’s campy acting skills in such popular sci-fi movies as Soylent Green, the Omega Man, and Planet of the Apes. But honestly Michael Moore already has accomplished more in his film career than Heston did in a lifetime.

  10. It’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, Big Dave — they had very different careers. I am a fan of both Heston and Moore, and agree that Heston’s sometimes-cheesy performances were very appealing.

  11. Mr Heston had more talent and gentlemanly was than Michael Moore will ever have. He also had convictions strong with God and respect he earned. As a child Mr Heston stood out in everythig that he did with strong conviction and compassion and respect from the media. I have never heard anything dirt about this man. His era puts Hollywood to absolute shamE. His era had but only the best actors of all time. May you rest in peace Mr. Heston nest to our Heavenly Father. GOD BLESS
    and thank you for your descency and morals of sincere acting coming into our homes when television was valued as family with respect in tv history.

  12. God Bless Dana for her kind and accurate remarks regarding Charlton Heston. Michael Moore couldn’t light a candle much less hold one in comparison to Mr. Heston. I, too, became a fan in childhood and I absolutely never felt that Mr. Heston EVER turned in a cheesy performance!!! It is regrettable to know that there is not one actor in Hollywood these days who begins to approximate Mr. Heston for either talent or conviction. May he live in our hearts forever.

  13. Charleton Heston was a fine actor – because until I saw Mr. Moore’s film, I thought he was quite normal… yes indeed a fine actor… but not a fine human being.

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