Sunday, April 6, 2008

Charlton Heston - A King Of Hollywood

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008), who died after a long illness yesterday, will always be remembered by fans as an alpha male American film star.

The Academy Award-winning actor was known for playing heroic roles, such as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Colonel George Taylor in Planet Of The Apes and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur.

Early in his career, he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to publicly speak out against racism and was active in the civil rights movement.

He was also a staunch environmentalist.

He was also president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003, and infamously opposed gun control.

Politically, he was a staunch Republican who supported President George W. Bush’s assaults on civil liberties after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Heston was born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois. Of Native American and English ancestry, Heston adopted his stage name from the surname of his mother Lilla Charlton and his stepfather Chester Heston (his parents were divorced when he was 10 and his biological father was Russell Carter).

Active in drama since his schooldays in Chicago, Heston spent 2 years in the United States Air Force and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

After leaving the army, Heston became a theatre actor and famously starred in the plays Julius Caesar (as Mark Antony) and A Man For All Seasons (as Thomas Moore).

In 1950, Heston appeared in his first film, Dark City.

His breakthrough came with the role of a circus manager in The Greatest Show On Earth in 1952.

Heston subsequently played Moses in Cecil DeMille’s film The Ten Commandments, and the director chose him because of his uncanny resemblance to the statue of Moses by Michelangelo.

Heston’s other famous films included Ben-Hur, El Cid, 55 Days At Peking, The Agony And The Ecstasy (as Michelangelo) and Khartoum.

After Burt Lancaster turned down the role of heroic Jewish freedom fighter Judah Ben-Hur, Heston accepted the role, and won the Academy Award for Best Actor, one of 11 Oscars the film earned.

Heston was identified with the Biblical epic more than any other actor and he voiced the role of Judah Ben-Hur for a cartoon version of the film in 2003.

Heston was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971, the longest serving SAG president.

Between 1968 and 1974, Heston starred in a number of science fiction and disaster films such as Planet Of The Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1973) and Earthquake (1974), all of which were hugely successful and have since become classic films.

After 1973's The Three Musketeers, Heston was seen in an increasing number of supporting roles.

From 1985 to 1987, he starred in the prime-time soap, The Colbys. With his son Fraser, he starred and produced several TV movies, including remakes of Treasure Island and A Man For All Seasons.

In 1993, he appeared in a cameo role in Wayne's World 2 and hosted Saturday Night Live. He subsequently had cameos in the films Hamlet, Tombstone and True Lies.