With features chiseled in stone, who else but Charlton Heston could you picture as Michelangelo, as Ben-Hur, as Moses? Heston's movie career took off with The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and reached light speed with Ben-Hur (1959). Although he has played a pantheon of larger-than-life roles, he usually prefers to talk about the day-to-day daily grind of the movie business, and especially credits the writers and directors he has worked for much of his success.IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel
Renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston is one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years.
Heston was born John Charles Carter on October 4th 1924 in Evanston, Illinois, and made his feature film debut as the lead character in a 16mm production of Peer Gynt (1941), based on the Henrik Ibsen play. Shortly thereafter, he played 'Marc Antony' in Julius Caesar (1950), however Heston firmly stamped himself as genuine leading man material with his performance as circus manager 'Brad Braden' in the Cecil B. DeMille spectacular The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), also starring James Stewart and Cornel Wilde. The now very popular actor remained perpetually busy during the 1950s, both on TV and on the silver screen with audience pleasing performances in the steamy thriller The Naked Jungle (1954), as a treasure hunter in Secret of the Incas (1954) and another barn storming performance for Cecil B. DeMille as "Moses" in the blockbuster The Ten Commandments (1956). Heston delivered further dynamic performances in the oily film noir thriller Touch of Evil (1958), and then alongside Gregory Peck in the western The Big Country (1958) before scoring the role for which he is arguably best known, that of the wronged Jewish prince who seeks his freedom and revenge in the William Wyler directed Ben-Hur (1959). This mammoth Biblical epic running in excess of three and a half hours became the standard by which other large scale productions would be judged, and it's superb cast also including Stephen Boyd as the villainous "Massala", English actor Jack Hawkins as the Roman officer "Quintus Arrius", and Australian actor Frank Thring as "Pontius Pilate", all contributed wonderful performances.
Never one to rest on his laurels, steely Heston remained the preferred choice of directors to lead the cast in major historical productions and during the 1960s he starred as Spanish legend "Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" in El Cid (1961), as a US soldier battling hostile Chinese boxers during 55 Days at Peking (1963), played the ill-fated "John the Baptist" in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), the masterful painter "Michelangelo" battling Pope Julius II in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), and an English general in Khartoum (1966). In 1968, Heston filmed the unusual western Will Penny (1968) about an aging and lonely cowboy befriending a lost woman and her son, which Heston has often referred to as his favorite piece of work on screen.
Interestingly, Heston was on the verge of acquiring an entirely new league of fans due to his appearance in four very topical science fiction films (all based on popular novels) painting bleak future's for mankind. In 1968, Heston starred as time traveling astronaut "George Taylor", in the terrific Planet of the Apes (1968) with it's now legendary conclusion as Heston realizes the true horror of his destination. He returned to reprise the role, albeit primarily as a cameo, alongside fellow astronaut James Franciscus in the slightly inferior sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Next up, Heston again found himself facing the apocalypse in The Omega Man (1971) as the survivor of a germ plague that has wiped out humanity leaving only bands of psychotic lunatics roaming the cities who seek to kill the uninfected Heston. And fourthly, taking its inspiration from the Harry Harrison novel "Make Room!, Make Room!", Heston starred alongside screen legend Edward G. Robinson and Chuck Connors in Soylent Green (1973). During the remainder of the 1970s, Heston appeared in two very popular "disaster movies" contributing lead roles in the far fetched Airport 1975 (1974), plus in the star laden Earthquake (1974), filmed in "Sensoround" (low bass speakers were installed in selected theaters to simulate the earthquake rumblings on screen to movie audiences). He played an evil Cardinal in the lively The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974), a mythical US naval officer in the recreation of Midway (1976), also filmed in "Sensoround", an LA cop trying to stop a sniper in Two-Minute Warning (1976) and another US naval officer in the submarine thriller Gray Lady Down (1978).
Heston appeared in numerous episodes of the high rating TV series "Dynasty" (1981) and "The Colbys" (1985), before moving onto a mixed bag of projects including TV adaptations of Treasure Island (1990) (TV) and A Man for All Seasons (1988) (TV), hosting two episodes of the comedy show, "Saturday Night Live" (1975), starring as the "Good Actor" bringing love struck Mike Myers to tears in Wayne's World 2 (1993), and as the eye patch wearing boss of intelligence agent Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (1994).
He also narrated numerous TV specials and lent his vocal talents to the animated movie Hercules (1997), the family comedy Cats & Dogs (2001) and an animated version of Ben Hur (2003) (V). Heston made an uncredited appearance in the inferior remake of Planet of the Apes (2001), and his last film appearance to date was in the Holocaust themed drama of Rua Alguem 5555: My Father (2003).
Heston has been married to Lydia Marie Clark Heston since March 1944, and they have two children. His highly entertaining autobiography was released in 1995, titled appropriately enough "Into The Arena". Although often criticized for his strong conservative beliefs and involvement with the NRA, Heston was a strong advocate for civil right many years before it became fashionable, and has been a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, plus the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and has not appeared in a film or TV production since 2003.
Truly, Charlton Heston is one of the legendary figures of US cinema.
|Lydia Clarke||(17 March 1944 - 5 April 2008) (his death) 2 children|
His deep, commanding voice
Frequently played heroic or larger-than-life characters
Lean yet muscular physique
Went to British Columbia to promote guns, arguing it is man's "God-given right" to own guns.
Alumnus of New Trier Township High School East, Winnetka, Illinois, where tennis was among his extracurricular activities. Other New Trier graduates include Ralph Bellamy, Rock Hudson, Hugh B. O'Brien, Ann-Margret, Bruce Dern, Penelope Milford, Virginia Madsen and Liz Phair.
Ranked #28 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Father of director Fraser Clarke Heston and Holly Heston Rochell.
Elected first vice-president of the National Rifle Association of America (1997).
Co-chairman of the American Air Museum in Britain.
Elected president of the National Rifle Association of America. [June 1998]
Was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966-1971.
Has stated that he sees no contradiction with his work as a Civil Rights activist in the 1960s and his advocacy for gun ownership rights in the 1990s, insisting that he is simply promoting "freedom in the truest sense."
Volunteered his time and effort to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and even marched alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on a number of occasions, including the 1963 March on Washington. In the original (uncut) version of King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970), he was narrator.
He and his wife, Lydia Clarke, both battled cancer. He survived prostate cancer and she, breast cancer.
On August 9, 2002, he issued a statement in which he advised his physicians have recently told him he may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease.
Elected as the president of the National Rifle Association, he was re-elected to an unprecedented 4th 3-year term in 2001.
His professional name of Charlton Heston came from a combination of his mother's maiden name (Lila Charlton) and his stepfather's last name (Chester Heston).
Said that Planet of the Apes (1968) was the most physically demanding film he had ever done.
He and Linda Harrison are the only actors to appear in both the 1968 and 2001 versions of Planet of the Apes.
After their son was born, they decided to adopt their next child so that they could be sure it would be a girl. Heston and his wife felt that one son and one daughter made the perfect family.
His wife calls him Charlie, but everyone else calls him Chuck
Three grandsons: John Alexander Clarke "Jack" Heston, Ridley Charlton Rochell, and "Charlie" Rochell.
He was voted the 52nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Was not hesitant about repeating roles: Played Ben Hur in Ben-Hur (1959) (live action) and Ben Hur (2003) (V) (animated); Andrew Jackson in the biography The President's Lady (1953), then in The Buccaneer (1958); Marc Antony in Julius Caesar (1970) and Antony and Cleopatra (1972). (Richelieu does not count, as The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) were filmed at the same time.).
A frail-looking Heston was presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, at the White House by George W. Bush in July, 2003.
Was asked by some Democrats to run for the California State Senate in 1969, but declined because he wanted to continue acting.
First recipient of the American Film Institute's Charlton Heston Award, created in 2003. The second recipient was his close friend Jack Valenti in 2004.
While they were starring in a play together in 1960, Laurence Olivier told Heston that he had the potential to become the greatest American actor of the century. When the play received unfavorable notices, Heston said, "I guess you learn to forget bad notices?", to which Olivier replied, "What's more important, laddie, and much harder -- learn to forget good notices."
In 1999 he joined Karl Malden in pressing for an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement to be awarded to veteran director Elia Kazan. Marlon Brando, who never made public appearances, refused to present the award so Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese ultimately did.
While studying acting early in his career, he made ends meet by posing as a model in New York at The Art Students League, across from Carnegie Hall. The lure to Hollywood and a contract soon ended his modeling days.
When his TV series "The Colbys" (1985) was canceled, both he and fellow cast members John James and Emma Samms were offered contracts to continue playing their characters on "Dynasty" (1981), the series that "The Colbys" was spun off from. Heston ultimately declined because his salary demands could not be met. James and Samms, on the other hand, accepted contracts.
Was unable to use his real name, John (Charles) Carter as an actor because it bore too close a resemblance to the name of the hero in Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel "Princess of Mars."
Offered to return his entire paycheck to the producers of Major Dundee (1965) so that director Sam Peckinpah could film some crucial scenes that were cut due to time and budget constraints. The producers took back Heston's paycheck but still refused to let the scenes be filmed. Heston wrote in his autobiography "In The Arena" (1995) that the main problem with Major Dundee (1965) was that everyone had a different idea of what the film was: Heston saw it as a film about life after the Civil War, the producers just wanted a standard cavalry-vs.-Indians film, while Peckinpah, according to Heston, really had his next film, The Wild Bunch (1969), in mind.
Heston is a popular actor in Greece, where his name is written as "Charlton Easton" due to "Heston" having scatological connotations in the Greek language.
In 1981, Heston was named co-chairman of President Ronald Reagan's Task Force for the Arts and Humanities. He served on the National Council for the Arts and was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild six times.
A World War II U.S. Army veteran, he visited troops fighting during the Vietnam War in 1967. In fact, in one camp in South Vietnam's delta area, he was "initiated" into the GI's on-base club, by having to receive a kiss on the ear!.
On 18 June 1968, Heston appeared on "The Joey Bishop Show" (1967) and, along with Gregory Peck, James Stewart and Kirk Douglas, called for gun controls following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Ironically, thirty years later, Heston was elected President of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and campaigned against gun control.
In 2000 he surprised the Oxford Union by reading his address on gun laws from a teleprompter. This later sparked rumors he had known of his Alzheimer's long before he announced it to the world in August 2002.
He is an opponent of abortion and gave the introduction to an anti-abortion documentary by Bernard Nathanson called Eclipse of Reason (1980) which focuses on late-term abortions.
Heston served on the Advisory Board of Accuracy in the Media (AIM), a conservative media "watchdog" group founded by the late Reed Irvine.
He retired as president of the National Rifle Association in April 2003, citing reasons of ill health.
He was a friend of the author Patrick O'Brian, who in turn envisaged Heston playing his character Captain Jack Aubrey.
Was an avid runner, swimmer and tennis player in his youth.
In 1996 Heston attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations. There he agreed to pose for a group photo that included Gordon Lee Baumm, the founder of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) and former White Citizens Council organizer. Virginia's conservative Republican Senator George Allen also appears in the photo which was published in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
Cited actor Gary Cooper as a childhood role model. Heston starred opposite Cooper in The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959). Heston commended Cooper for being able to perform his own stunts, such as being under water for long periods of time, despite being in poor health and getting older.
Though often portrayed as an ultra-conservative, Heston wrote in his 1995 autobiography "In the Arena" that he was opposed to the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s, was against the Vietnam War and thought President Richard Nixon was bad for America.
Neighbors who live down the hill from Heston filed a lawsuit against the actor, alleging their property was damaged in January 2005 when heavy rain sent hillside debris pouring into their home. The lawsuit alleges that "slope failure" on Heston's property caused substantial damage to their home, diminishing the market value of their property. The couple seek at least $1.2 million, as well as punitive damages. Jeff Briggs, Heston's attorney, said the actor owns ten per cent of the hillside, while the neighbors own the rest. (3 January 2007).
Hosted "Saturday Night Live" (1975) in 1993.
He wore a hairpiece in every movie from Skyjacked (1972) onwards.
He defended some of his less successful films in the mid-1960s, arguing that he had already made several million dollars and therefore wanted to concentrate on projects which interested him personally.
During the Waco standoff in 1993, Heston was hired by the FBI to provide the voice of God when talking to David Koresh in an attempt to reason with him. The plan was never used.
Heston has often been compared with his friend Ronald Reagan. Both actors started out as liberal Democrats but gradually converted to conservative Republicans, both served as Presidents of the Screen Actors Guild, both went into politics (Reagan as President of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and Heston as President of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003), and both suffered from Alzheimer's disease in later life. Heston attended Reagan's state funeral on 11 June 2004.
Attended the funeral of Lew Wasserman in June 2002.
He was unable to campaign for Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election when Major Dundee (1965) went over schedule. Heston later admitted in his autobiography "In the Arena" (1995) that it was here that his political beliefs began moving to the Right.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Heston continued to act on the stage. He appeared in Long Day's Journey Into Night opposite Deborah Kerr, Macbeth opposite Vanessa Redgrave and The Caine Mutiny with Ben Cross. His final stage role was opposite his wife Lydia Clarke in Love Letters at the Haymarket Theatre in London in the summer of 1999.
In his youth he used an iron bar attached to a wall to do pull ups and chin ups in order to develop his biceps and triceps.
Cited Will Penny (1968) as his personal favorite film from his career.
Missed the start of his presentation at The 44th Annual Academy Awards (1972) (TV), because of a flat tire on the Santa Monica freeway. Clint Eastwood stood in for him, and before Eastwood finished the speech that Heston was due to give, Heston arrived, to some audience laughter and enjoyment.
Somewhat ironically, Heston was a vocal supporter of the Gun Control Act of 1968, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
In the animated television show "Family Guy" (1999), Heston is accidentally shot by character Joe Swanson. Joe is horrified and apologizes profusely. As he collapses, Heston replies "That's OK son - it's your right as an American citizen!".
Had a hip replacement in 1996.
Named The Call of the Wild (1972) as his worst movie.
Tried to revive the play "Mister Roberts" in the early 1990s, but was unsuccessful.
In April 2003 10-foot-tall bronze statue of Heston was erected in front of the NRA's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., in character from Will Penny (1968), in full cowboy gear holding a handgun.
Owned more than 400 modern and antique guns.
Heston's Hollywood mansion is filled with memorabilia from his career. He and his wife have lived in the same house near Los Angeles's Mulholland Drive for more than forty years. Built by the actor's father after Heston won the Academy Award for best actor in Ben-Hur (1959), the postmodern style home - inside and out - is filled with the memorabilia. Sitting on a table in the back yard is the figure of a Roman, whip in hand, lashing vigorously at four straining horses harnessed to a chariot. Mounted on the entrance of his study are the two great brass ring knockers from the movie set's House of Hur. Hung above the fireplace is a painting of a lumbering Conestoga wagon and, nearby, a pencil sketch of friend Sir Laurence Olivier portraying King Lear. From most windows sparkle views of canyons. In the home's central hallway hang twenty paintings of Heston in signature roles: Ben-Hur, Moses, Richelieu, Michelangelo, the Planet of the Apes (1968) marooned astronaut Commander Taylor, the steel-willed Major Dundee, Soylent Green (1973) detective Thorn, Andrew Jackson in The President's Lady (1953), tough ranch foreman Steve Leech riding through The Big Country (1958), and cattle poke Will Penny (1968) from Heston's favorite film.
As president of the NRA, he would usually tell his audience in speeches that he had "marched for civil rights long before it became fashionable to do so". In reality he only attended two events, the first in 1961 and the second the March on Washington in August 1963. Due to his busy film career at the time, he was unable to appear more frequently to back the Civil Rights cause.
According to Gore Vidal, as recounted in The Celluloid Closet (1995), one of the script elements he was brought in to re-write for Ben-Hur (1959) was the relationship between Messalah and Ben-Hur. Director William Wyler was concerned that two men who had been close friends as youths would not simply hate one another as a result of disagreeing over politics. Thus, Vidal devised a thinly veiled subtext suggesting the Messalah and Ben-Hur had been lovers as teenagers, and their fighting was a result of Ben-Hur spurning Messalah. Wyler was initially hesitant to implement the subtext, but agreed on the conditions that no direct reference ever be made to the characters' sexuality in the script, that Vidal personally discuss the idea with Stephen Boyd, and not mention the subtext to Heston who, Wyler feared, would panic at the idea. After Vidal admitted to adding the homosexual subtext in public, Heston denied the claim, going so far as to suggest Vidal had little input into the final script, and his lack of screen credit was a result of his being fired for trying to add gay innuendo. Vidal rebutted by citing passages from Heston's 1978 autobiography, where the actor admitted that Vidal had authored much of the final shooting script.
He was one of several prominent people to serve on the advisory board of U.S. English, a group that seeks to make English the official language of the United States. Other members include Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and golfer Arnold Palmer.
Professed great respect and admiration for the late actor Gregory Peck, despite their opposing political ideals.
He played three roles after they had been turned down by Burt Lancaster. In 1958 the producers of Ben-Hur (1959) offered Lancaster $1 million to play the title role in their epic, but he turned it down because, as an atheist, he did not want to help promote Christianity. Lancaster also said he disagreed with the "violent morals" of the story. Three years later, in 1961 Lancaster announced his intention to produce a biopic of Michelangelo, in which he would play the title role and show the truth about the painter's homosexuality. However, he was forced to shelve this project due to the five-month filming schedule on Luchino Visconti's masterpiece The Leopard (1963). Heston starred as Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) and even in his autobiography thirty years later was still denying that the painter had been gay, despite all evidence to the contrary. Lancaster also turned down the role of General Gordon in Khartoum (1966).
Was sick with the flu during filming of Planet of the Apes (1968). The producers decided to have him act through his illness, even though it was physically grueling, because they felt the hoarse sound of his voice added something to the character. Heston recounted in a diary he kept during filming that he "felt like Hell" during the filming of the scene where his character was forcefully separated from Nova (Linda Harrison), made worse by the impact of the fire hose used on him.
His funeral was held a week after his death on 12 April 2008 in a ceremony which was attended by 250 people including former First Lady Nancy Davis, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia de Havilland, Keith Carradine, Pat Boone, Tom Selleck, Oliver Stone and Rob Reiner.
He was a vocal opponent of a nuclear freeze in the early 1990s, and openly supported the 1991 Gulf war.
Campaigned for fifty Republican candidates in the 1996 presidential election.
Although he and Kirk Douglas differed greatly on politics (Douglas was a very liberal Democrat and Heston a very conservative Republican), Heston and Douglas were very close friends. Douglas spoke highly of their friendship; so highly, in fact, that after a viewing of the film Bowling for Columbine (2002) (and in particular the scene where Heston is grilled on his involvement in the NRA and asked to apologize for murder as a member of the NRA) Douglas said he would "never forgive" Michael Moore, the film's director and the man who conducted the interview) for the way he treated Heston.
Broke his nose in high school playing football. He later commented that this was ultimately to his advantage as an actor because it gave him "the profile of an Eagle.".
Initially turned down the role of Steve Leech in The Big Country (1958) because he didn't think the role was big enough after the success he had with The Ten Commandments (1956), but his agent convinced him to take the part on the grounds that it would be worth it for his career to work with both Gregory Peck, who was still a bigger star than Heston at the time, and director William Wyler. This association led to Heston being cast in Wyler's next film, as the title character in Ben-Hur (1959), for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor.
Had a fondness for drawing and sketching, and often sketched the cast and crew of his films whenever he had the chance to do so. His sketches were later published in the book Charlton Heston's Hollywood: 50 Years In American Film.
Laurence Olivier was so impressed by Heston's stage skills that he commented that Heston had a future on the stage.
When he met Toshirô Mifune around 1960, he was extremely taken with the Japanese star and claimed that if Mifune spoke English "he could be the greatest star in the world". The two actors exchanged Christmas cards since their meeting until Mifune's death.
Was friends with Brock Peters, having worked with him in numerous plays throughout the 1940s and 50s and films throughout the 1960s and 70s. They were slated to star in a biracial cast of Romeo and Juliet in 1946 that would have had Peters playing Tybalt and Heston as Mercutio that was abandoned due to a lack of financial backing.
Very popular in Japan, where even his less successful films were generally well received, because his screen persona embodied the qualities that the Japanese had admired in their Samurai warriors.
One of his biggest regrets was that he never got to play the lead role in Becket.
Stated in his autobiography 'In The Arena' that while he felt Anthony Mann was a good director, he also felt that Mann's lack of experience in directing large scale historical films such as their 1961 epic El Cid (1961) hurt the overall product and also stated that El Cid may have benefited from being directed by William Wyler, who directed Heston in The Big Country (1958) and Ben-Hur (1959), or someone like Wyler.
Cited not doing a Hispanic accent for his Mexican narcotics officer Miguel 'Mike' Vargas in Touch of Evil (1958) as one of the biggest mistakes he ever made as an actor.
Heston wanted to appear in The Return of the Musketeers (1989), but his character of Cardinal Richelieu from the previous film was deceased in the film's setting of 1648. Fortunately, director Richard Lester had a painting of Richelieu created, with Heston as the model. This painting is seen in the beginning of the film, and was given to Heston after filming.
Did a great deal of research on the historical Cardinal Richelieu for his appearance in The Three Musketeers (1973)/The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974). Even though the character is portrayed as an antagonist, Heston gained a great deal of respect for the man's real accomplishments on behalf of France. He came across a quote attributed to Richelieu: "I have no enemies, France has enemies." He liked the line so much that he insisted it be worked into the films somewhere, and he ultimately got his wish. Though slightly modified ("I have no enemies, only enemies of France."), the line appears in the second film, in the scene where Richelieu offers d'Artagnan the opportunity to be one of his soldiers.
Is the youngest man to receive the Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award, in 1967 at the age of 43.
Underwent treatment for alcoholism in the year 2000.
[from a taped announcement concerning his having symptoms of Alzheimer's disease] For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life . . . For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring to my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway.
[on Sam Peckinpah] Sam is the only person I've ever physically threatened on a set.
If you need a ceiling painted, a chariot race run, a city besieged, or the Red Sea parted, you think of me.
You can take my rifle ... when you pry it from my cold dead hands!
[on why he turned down Alexander the Great (1956)] Alexander is the easiest kind of movie to do badly.
Affirmative action is a stain on the American soul.
[on conquering his alcohol addiction in 2000] It was one of my best recent years. And now I'm not drinking at all. I wasn't slurring my words. I wasn't falling over, but I realized it had become an addiction for me. And in my profession, it's a terrible flaw to fall into. I believe I did it in time.
Political correctness is tyranny with manners.
The Internet is for lonely people. People should live.
[from his final televised interview in December 2002, regarding his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease] What cannot be cured must be endured.
I've played cardinals and cowboys, kings and quarterbacks, presidents and painters, cops and con-men.
[on Robert De Niro] It's ridiculous for an actor that good to keep playing Las Vegas hoods.
People have been asking me for thirty-five years if I was losing jobs because of my conservative politics. I've never felt that was the case.
Here's my credo. There are no good guns, There are no bad guns. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a good man is no threat to anyone, except bad people.
I don't know the man - never met him, never even spoken to him. But I feel sorry for George Clooney - one day he may get Alzheimer's disease. I served my country in World War II. I survived that - I guess I can survive some bad words from this fellow.
[message sent to US troops in Iraq, 2003] There is no duty more noble than that which has called you across the world in defense of freedom. Yours is a mission of hope and humanity for the oppressed. Rest assured that while pretend-patriots talk of supporting you, even as they condemn your noble cause, an unwavering vast majority of Americans share and take pride in your mission. You represent all that is good and right about America and are the true face of American patriotism. You walk in those same righteous footsteps of all those patriots who, before you, fought to preserve liberty for all. Our prayers and our personal gratitude are with you and your families. May God Bless You, Charlton and Lydia Heston/.
[talking about what he sees as Hollywood's stereotyping of Protestant religious figures] Clergymen tend to be unreliable and pompous figures. Seldom Jewish rabbis, less often Catholic priests, but Protestant ministers tend to be . . . not really very admirable. Not necessarily evil, but silly. And wrong, of course.
There's a special excitement in playing a man who made a hole in history large enough to be remembered centuries after he died.
If you can't make a career out of two de Milles, you'll never do it.
[after completing El Cid (1961)] After spending all of last winter in armor it's a great relief to wear costume that bends.
The minute you feel you have given a faultless performance is the time to get out.
I have played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses. If that doesn't create an ego problem, nothing does.
I've been killed often, on film, the stage, and the television tube. Studios insist the audience doesn't like this. It's been my experience that it makes them unhappy, but that's not the same thing. In any event, they often attend those undertakings where I come to a violent end even more enthusiastically than they do those where I survive. There may be a message for me somewhere there.
I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be an actor.
[following the death of Gary Cooper in 1961] He was a wonderful, forthright and honorable man.
[following the death of Barbara Stanwyck in 1990] She was a great broad, in all the meaning of the word.
It's hard living up to Moses.
It is essential that gun owners unite in an active, growing force capable of flexing great muscle as the next millennium commences.
The great roles are always Shakespearean.
Most people in the film community don't really understand what being politically active means. They think it is just doing interviews. I'm content that the Hollywood left thinks being a political activist means riding Air Force One and hanging out with the President.
It is not widely known that one of the finest gun collections on the West Coast is Steven Spielberg's. He shoots, but very privately.
In recent years, anyone in the government, certainly anyone in the FBI or the CIA, or recently, in again, [Clint Eastwood]'s film, In the Line of Fire (1993), the main bad guy is the chief advisor to the president.
[on Pulp Fiction (1994)] Now what [Quentin Tarantino will say to that is, "Don't you understand? This is a black comedy. We're holding this up to ridicule". There's no worse thing you can accuse a cool person of being than not getting a joke.
The big studio era is from the coming of sound until 1950, until I came in ... I came in at a crux in film, which was the end of the studio era and the rise of filmmaking.
You can spend a lifetime, and, if you're honest with yourself, never once was your work perfect.
 I marched for civil rights with Dr. [Martin Luther King] in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe. I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
It's been quite a ride. I loved every minute of it.
People don't perceive me as a shy man. But I am. I am thought of mostly in terms of the parts I play. I am seen as a forbidding authority figure. I only wish I were as indomitable as everyone thinks.
I find my blood pressure rising when [Bill Clinton]'s cultural shock troops participate in homosexual rights fund raisers but boycott gun rights fund raisers - and then claim it's time to place homosexual men in tents with Boy Scouts and suggest that sperm-donor babies born into lesbian relationships are somehow better served.
Mainstream America is depending on you - counting on you - to draw your sword and fight for them. These people have precious little time or resources to battle misguided Cinderella attitudes, the fringe propaganda of the homosexual coalition, the feminists who preach that it's a divine duty for women to hate men, blacks who raise a militant fist with one hand, while they seek preference with the other.
The Constitution was handed down to guide us by a bunch of those wise old, dead, white guys who invented this country. It's true - they were white guys. So were most of the guys who died in [Abraham Lincoln]'s name, opposing slavery in the 1860s. So, why should I be ashamed of white guys? Why is Hispanic pride or black pride a good thing, while white pride conjures up shaved heads and white hoods?
People in the film community think being politically active means getting on Air Force One and going to dinner at the White House. I've scorned a few liberals in this town, and I get a kick out of that.
In the beginning an actor impresses us with his looks, later his voice enchants us. Over the years, his performances enthrall us. But in the end, it is simply what he is.
In Hollywood there are more gun owners in the closet than homosexuals.
Somewhere in the busy pipeline of public funding is sure to be a demand from a disabled lesbian on welfare that the Metropolitan Opera stage her rap version of "Carmen" as translated into Ebonics.
Once the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, I had other agendas.
I didn't change. The Democratic Party slid to the Left from right under me.
[explaining his endorsement of the Gun Control Act of 1968] I was young and foolish.
[on President Bill Clinton] America didn't trust you with their health-care system, America didn't trust you with gays in the military, America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters. And we sure, Lord, don't trust you with our guns.
I'm pissed off when Indians say they're Native Americans! I'm a Native American, for chrisakes!
Too many gun owners think we've wandered to some fringe of American life and left them behind.
Jackson was one of my favorite Presidents. One mean son of a bitch.
"Hard" is what I do best. I don't do "nice".
[August 9, 2002] My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fans: My physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease. So . . . I wanted to prepare a few words for you now, because when the time comes, I may not be able to. I've lived my whole life on the stage and screen before you. I've found purpose and meaning in your response. For an actor there's no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life. For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring in my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway. I'm neither giving up nor giving in. I believe I'm still the fighter that Dr. [Martin Luther King] and [John F. Kennedy] and Ronald Reagan knew, but it's a fight I must someday call a draw. I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure. Please feel no sympathy for me. I don't. I just may be a little less accessible to you, despite my wishes. I also want you to know that I'm grateful beyond measure. My life has been blessed with good fortune. I'm grateful that I was born in America, that cradle of freedom and opportunity, where a kid from the Michigan Northwoods can work hard and make something of his life. I'm grateful for the gift of the greatest words ever written, that let me share with you the infinite scope of the human experience. As an actor, I'm thankful that I've lived not one life, but many. Above all, I'm proud of my family ... my wife Lydia, the queen of my heart, my children, Fraser and Holly, and my beloved grandchildren, Jack, Ridley and Charlie. They're my biggest fans, my toughest critics and my proudest achievement. Through them, I can touch immortality. Finally, I'm confident about the future of America. I believe in you. I know that the future of our country, our culture and our children is in good hands. I know you will continue to meet adversity with strength and resilience, as our ancestors did, and come through with flying colors - the ones on Old Glory. William Shakespeare, at the end of his career, wrote his farewell through the words of Prospero, in "The Tempest". It ends like this: "Be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-cap'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep". Thank you, and God bless you, everyone.
I have never felt I was being ill-treated by the press - ill-treated by Barbra Streisand, maybe. But Ms. Streisand I suggest is inadequately educated on the Constitution of the United States.
[Following the death of Gregory Peck in 2003] Gregory Peck was one of those few great actors of generosity, humor, toughness and spirit. From our fight scene in The Big Country (1958) to his willingness to stand up for what he believed personally, Gregory Peck faced life's challenges with great vigor and courage.
 Vote freedom first. Vote George W. Bush. Everything else is a distant and forgettable second place. This is the most important election since the Civil War. Al Gore, if elected, would have the power to hammer your gun rights right into oblivion. Instead of fighting redcoats, we are now fighting blue blood elitists.
Somebody once approached Kirk Douglas and said they had enjoyed his performance in Ben-Hur (1959). So he said, 'That wasn't me, that was another fellow.' And the man said, 'Well, if you aren't Burt Lancaster, who the hell are you?'
 Al Gore is now saying, "I'm with you guys on guns". In any other time or place you'd be looking for a lynching mob.
 The law-abiding citizen is entitled to own a rifle, pistol, or shotgun. The right, put simply, shall not be infringed.
I have spent my life in service to these two sacred sets of work - the gift of human passion in William Shakespeare and the gift of human freedom enshrined in the American bill of human rights. Tony Blair can have his bodyguards and the police are all allowed to defend themselves, then so should the people.
[on Sophia Loren] All in all the most trying work time with an actress I can ever recall. Mind you, she's not a bitch. She's a warm lady, truly; she's just more star than pro.
[on working with Ava Gardner in 55 Days at Peking (1963)] Today marked the worst behavior I've yet seen from that curious breed I make my living opposite. Ava showed up for a late call, did one shot (with the usual incredible delay in coming to the set), and then walked off just before lunch when some Chinese extra took a still of her. She came back after a painful three-hour lunch break only to walk off, for the same reason.
[on Anne Baxter] We never had a cross word. However, I did not find her enormously warming and there was no great personal stirring between us as friends.
[on Richard Harris] Richard is very much the professional Irishman. I found him a somewhat erratic personality and an occasional pain in the posterior. But we certainly never feuded.
[on Richard Harris] He's something of a fuck-up, no question.
I have a face that belongs in another century.
I have lived such a wonderful life! I've lived enough for two people.
[on how his marriage lasted as long as it did]: Remember three simple words - I was wrong.
I like playing great men. They're more interesting than the rest of us.
[on his role in The Ten Commandments (1956)] I was a little green in the film. I could do it better now.
I'd rather play a senator than be one.
I've almost never been content with what I've done in any film. My heart's desire would be to do them all over again - and not do a half dozen of them at all.
Why does Cary Grant get all those pictures set entirely in penthouses?
[on actors advocating their political opinions]: Well, we have as much right to shoot our mouths off as anyone else. God knows I've exercised that right.
[September 2002] I've always been sure of my health and this suddenly gave me something else to think about. But maybe it's good if God gives you something to think about every so often. Whatever happens happens. You take it in stride if you can. You don't have many options there.
A lot of men in positions of authority are difficult people, because they're right, and they know they're right.
Orson [Welles] insists he hates acting but of course he is a very good actor and is really able to communicate with actors. It's not too often that you learn about acting from directors because that isn't what they do. They sometimes make you act better, but to really understand the process is a different thing.
Orson really understood the process. I remember we were looking at dailies one day and he leaned over and said, 'You know, Chuck, you have to work on your tenor range. Those of us with great bass voices love to rumble along in them. The tenor range is a knife edge; the bass is a velvet hammer. You have to use them both'. That was very useful. I'd never thought of it before.
|Julius Caesar (1950)||$50/week|
|The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)||$50,000|
|Touch of Evil (1958)||7.5% of the gross|
|The Buccaneer (1958)||$250,000|
|Julius Caesar (1970)||$100,000 + 15% of the gross|
|"The Colbys" (1985)||$90,000 per episode|
(2006) Release of the book, "From My Cold, Dead Hands: Charlton Heston and American Politics" by 'Emile Raymond'.
(1998) Release of his book, "Charlton Heston's Hollywood: 50 Years in American Film" by Charlton with Jean-Pierre Isbouts.
(1997) Release of his book, "Charlton Heston Presents the Bible".
(1986) Release of the book, "Charlton Heston" by 'Michael Munn'.
(1990) Release of his book, "Beijing Diary".
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