Custom Search

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston, Oscar Winning Actor, Dies at 84-RIP- My Favorites

(Charlton Heston-1923-2008)

Oscar winning actor Charlton Heston died in his Beverly Hills home with his family in attendance. In 2002 Heston was diagnosed with symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease.

Heston stunned the entertainment world in August 2002 when he made a poignant and moving videotaped address announcing his illness.

Late in life, Heston's stature as a political firebrand overshadowed his acting. He became demonized by gun-control advocates and liberal Hollywood when he became president of the National Rifle Assn. in 1998.

Heston answered his critics in a now-famous pose that mimicked Moses' parting of the Red Sea. But instead of a rod, Heston raised a flintlock over his head and challenged his detractors to pry the rifle "from my cold, dead hands."

(Charlton Heston in his "from my cold, dead hands" speech)

Heston has a distinguished movie, TV and acting career spanned from the 1950's to 2003 with many roles being larger than life.

A few highlighted films of Heston's career:

One of the first times I remember seeing him in a movie was "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952), which was made before I was born, but it was a favorite of my mother, so we watched it every time it played.

Heston played a circus manager Brad Braden engages The Great Sebastian, though this moves his girlfriend Holly from her hard-won center trapeze spot. Holly and Sebastian begin a dangerous one-upmanship duel in the ring, while he pursues her on the ground.

(From left- James Stewart, Buttons the Clown, Cornel Wilde, The Great Sebastian and Charlton Heston as Brad Braden)

That movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture. It also won an Oscar for Best Story.

Heston continued to work steadily throughout his career but I will never forget another movie made before my time, in 1956, where Heston played the part of Moses in "The Ten Commandments."

(Charlton Heston in "The Ten Commandments")

(Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments)

Heston also won the Academy Award for best actor in another blockbuster film in 1959, "Ben-Hur," racing four white horses at top speed in one of the cinema's legendary action sequences: the 15-minute chariot race in which his character, a proud and noble Jew, competes against his childhood Roman friend.

(Charlton Heston in "Ben-hur")

His movie, TV and acting appearances are too long to list each and every one, so you can see a list of his acting accomplishments here.

I will end with one of my old favorites as a child, which is "The Planet of the Apes", made in 1968, where an astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

(Charlton Heston in "The Planet of the Apes")

Heston played the leader of that voyage, George Tayor, whom was shot in the neck as the apes captured humans in a hunt, because of that injury he couldn't speak, his communication with the ape scientists was limited to hand signs and then in writing and I don't think anyone that was a child and watching that movie, could forget when he tried to escape and got caught in a net with the apes all pawing at him when he finally found his voice and screamed, "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

Another memorable scene was the very end of that movie, when Taylor (Heston) finally figured out he wasn't on another planet or another world, but was, indeed, in the future.

(The end of the first segment of the Planet of the Apes series)

A long, distinguished career from a man that gave millions of television viewers and movie watchers a good show and I, for one, will always remember him fondly.

His family issued a statement, which can be found here.

"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. He was known for his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders and resonating voice, and, of course, for the roles he played. Indeed, he committed himself to every role with passion, and pursued every cause with unmatched enthusiasm and integrity.

We knew him as an adoring husband, a kind and devoted father, and a gentle grandfather, with an infectious sense of humor. He served these far greater roles with tremendous faith, courage and dignity. He loved deeply, and he was deeply loved.

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."

A private memorial service will be held. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund:

Charlton Heston- Rest in Peace.