Oscar-Winning Actor Charlton Heston Dies, 84

April 07, 2008 12:25 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Heston, the star of film epics such as “El Cid” and “Ben Hur,” and Second-Amendment activist, died at his Beverly Hills home on Saturday night.

30-Second Summary

Charlton Heston was born John Charles Carter on Oct. 4, 1923, in Evanston, Illinois. As an actor he fused his mother’s maiden name, Charlton, with his stepfather’s last name, Heston.

One of his most well-known roles was the part of Moses in the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments.” He earned an Oscar for playing the titular hero of “Ben-Hur” in 1959. Heston’s résumé includes a number of milestones embedded in the American cinematic psyche, such as “Planet of the Apes,” “El Cid” and “Soylent Green.”

A strident conservative and advocate of the National Rifle Association, Heston’s political beliefs were not typical of Hollywood. He was president of the NRA from 1998 to 2002, and in a speech in 2000 he waved a musket above his head declaring, “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands.”

His support for the right to bear arms overshadowed his work championing civil rights in the 1960s. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to combat segregation in 1963. Ironically, Heston supported Lyndon Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968 before his views moved to the right during the Reagan administration.

In 2002, Heston revealed that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. “I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure,” he said.

Watch AP coverage

Headline Link: ‘Charlton Heston, 84; Actor, Oscar Winner, Played Grand Figures’

Obituary: Charlton Heston (1924–2008)

Reactions: Thoughts on Heston’s life and career

Video & Audio: “Ben-Hur,” “The Omega Man” and Michael Moore’s gun-control film

Reference: Heston’s genealogy

Related Topics: ‘Supreme Court Looks Set to Defend Gun Rights’


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