Charlton Heston, R.I.P.

Charlton Helston has died.

It was 48 years ago yesterday that Ben Hur swept the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Mr. Heston was a long-time political activist:

In his earlier years, Heston was a liberal Democrat, campaigning for Presidential candidates Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. A civil rights activist, he accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights march held in Washington, D.C. in 1963, even going so far as to wear a sign that read "All Men Are Created Equal". Heston later claimed it a point of pride that he helped in the civil rights cause "long before Hollywood found it fashionable", as he often says in his speeches. Heston had also planned to campaign for Lyndon Johnson, but was unable to do so when filming on Major Dundee went over schedule.


In 1968, following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Heston appeared on The Joey Bishop Show and, along with fellow actors Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and James Stewart, called for public support for President Johnson's Gun Control Act of 1968.

He was also an opponent of McCarthyism and racial segregation, which he saw as only helping the cause of Communism worldwide. He opposed the Vietnam War and considered Richard Nixon a disaster for America. He turned down John Wayne's offer of a role in The Alamo, because the film was a right-wing allegory for the Cold War[citation needed].

He later became much more conservative and was the President of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.

Obituary from the New York Times here.

R.I.P., Charlton Heston

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    There was something about that Hollywood era (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Stellaaa on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 11:45:07 PM EST
    the names, personas.  I think today was Bettie Davis' 100 birthday.  

    It is. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by BarnBabe on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 12:48:51 AM EST
    I grew up loving old black and white movies which they use to have every day right after American Bandstand and the Mickey Mouse Club. As I got a little older I would stay up late on Saturday night watching the Late Late Movies. Casablanca became a favorite. I can say the lines of everyone as the movie progressive. I might have been a Beatles fan, but I loved Cary Grant, Katheryn Hepburn, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman and The Thin Man. My Aunt loved Elizabeth Taylor and had all the fan magazines. Many are up in my attic.  They did not have HBO yet and newer movies were far between. You went to the theater to see them. Saturday Matinees.   Those old movies were so good. I have a appreciation of them because of Television. TCM has a great collection and once in a while they have Now Voyager and I will end up watching it again. And Heston in the Planet of the Apes was at his best.

    Off Topic, but wanted to say thanks (5.00 / 7) (#5)
    by tannersmom on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 11:54:45 PM EST
    I am a newly registered used, but a long time lurker. This is off topic here, but given that the post is off topic and the others are on more specific site related subjects, I just wanted to say (after spending the last 8 hours working on a brief and feeling sorry for myself) how much I appreciate this site and the writing and effort that goes into it. Your statement above saying that you don't allow the dead to be insulted says so much about you. I have grown away from the "great orange satan", TPM and others. I think I was fairly typical before this whole kool aid party began. Like most of us who discovered the on line community, I used to appreciate the connection and the attempt, at least, of the 100,000+ oars trying to go in the same direction and wanted to do my part. Lately as a supporter of someone other then Obama, I can't believe the same community I used to look to for inspiration is the one that is there now.  All the other sites I used to visit have become so foreign to me. Talk left thankfully had remained sane. I see the complete breakdown in community and this messianic desire to protect the figure head instead of what he represents as being so self destructive. I wish I could become excited and enchanted with Obama. However, I believe that the Democrats are on the verge of electing our own version of George W. Bush, someone who says what the base wants to hear and in who they can project their every desire, a clean slate lets you do that, a record, unfortunately does not.
     Coming here is like taking a deep breath and I just wanted to say thank you. I believe there are more like me then anyone realizes,and on behalf of just me (or maybe all of us) thanks.

    thank you (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 12:00:05 AM EST
    and I have a feeling you wrote a great brief tonight.

    Thanks again! (none / 0) (#10)
    by tannersmom on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 01:01:53 AM EST
    Thank you again! I hope so, whoever said the law was fun didn't have to spend 8 hours trying to make all that teeny tiny print on westlaw make sense! ha!

    Thanks (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by tree on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 12:09:38 AM EST
    for giving me a more rounded insight into Charlton Heston. I remembered him only as a staunch advocate for the NRA (and as an actor from a bygone era, of course).

     I wonder what led him to turn so conservative later in life?

    I think Reagan started (none / 0) (#8)
    by Stellaaa on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 12:11:02 AM EST
    being a lefty and then got turned around somehow.  

    Without further comment (none / 0) (#19)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 09:22:18 AM EST
    From the NYTimes

    He became a Republican after Democrats in the Senate blocked the confirmation of Judge Robert Bork, a conservative, to the Supreme Court in 1987. Mr. Heston had supported the nomination and was critical of the Reagan White House for misreading the depth of the liberal opposition.

    so he had obviously turned conservative (none / 0) (#21)
    by tree on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 10:30:59 AM EST
    sometime BEFORE 1987, if he was supporting Bork for the SC. Again, I wonder if there was a personal catalyst or if it was just a long slow trend from the mid 60's to the late 80's.



    Bork is a weird turning point (none / 0) (#22)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 10:53:58 AM EST
    Bork, of course, was the man who did Nixon's bidding in the Saturday Night Massacre. So Bork is a weird turning point for someone with Heston's history.

    I suspect the change had something to do with his friendship with Reagan.


    I think the same thing as me (none / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 09:26:10 PM EST
    He figured out that the Left would not protect the country. This was made so plain in the late 60's and early 70's.

    Remember. You can be a social liberal and support equal rights, NHC, gay marriage, etc., and still believe in a strong defense.


    Blessed Be (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by themomcat on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 01:17:01 AM EST
    may the Goddess guide him on his journey to the Summerlands. May his family friends and this country find Peace. Blessed Be.

    It surprising (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by badger on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 02:08:35 AM EST
    but I remember him more for his sci-fi films (Omega Man, Soylent Green and Planet of the Apes) then for his epics or other films. That and his bit in Wayne's World.

    Although El Cid really impressed me. I haven't seen it since I was a kid watching in it in a theater (can't recall that it's ever been on TV).

    I think I'll head over to Netflix and look for it.

    Soylent Green is the people! Great movie! (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by magisterludi on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 05:55:20 AM EST
    I believe Heston suffered from Alzheimer's, like Reagan. I hope his soul is at rest and his family finds solace.

    Ben-Hur (none / 0) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 08:31:50 AM EST
    Go look for that one, while you're at it.  It was jaw-dropping when it first ran in movie theaters on a big screen, and it's still one of the all-time best grand Hollywood-style movies. Heston is marvelous and believable in it, and the chariot race is still one of the most hair-raising things in movies. Makes Ahhhnold's "action hero" stuff look silly and gimmicky.  If there are special effects in the chariot race, they're invisible to me.  I can't even begin to imagine how they managed to film it.

    Very strange to me how a few people like Heston turned so bitterly and completely to the right.  But he was always a hard-working and honest Hollywood actor-- never profound, but always solid.



    Ben Hur is one of my favorite movies (none / 0) (#17)
    by kayla on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 08:56:09 AM EST
    ...So is The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes.  I love those old adventure movies.

    One should not talk bad about the dead (none / 0) (#1)
    by Prabhata on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 11:23:12 PM EST
    So I won't

    that's right (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 05, 2008 at 11:25:57 PM EST
    we don't speak ill of the dead. At least not on this site. Thanks for your restraint.

    He was a great actor (none / 0) (#18)
    by cannondaddy on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 09:17:54 AM EST
    and very patriotic, but there is a prying joke there somewhere...

    Funny (not ha-ha funny) (none / 0) (#16)
    by magster on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 08:43:29 AM EST
    Planet of the Apes was on TV the night before he died, and was the first time my wife watched the movie.

    A Michigan boy (none / 0) (#23)
    by cal1942 on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 12:41:38 PM EST
    from a tiny little town named St. Helen about 20 or so miles east of Houghton Lake.

    Some people do grow more conservative as they age. Not all but some.  I'm 66 and more progressive now than ever. I'm not alone.

    It goes without saying that events and circumstances are viewed in a variety of ways and lead to differing conclusions and outlook.

    I chose to remember the earlier Charleton Heston.

    Heston and Welles. (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 01:01:09 PM EST
    I also believe that it was Charlton Heston who was responsible for getting Orson Welles to do "Touch of Evil".

    He supported Welles in an industry that generally speaking wouldn't give him the time of day.

    I rememeber seeing a documentary (none / 0) (#26)
    by Daryl24 on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 02:29:15 PM EST
    on him. During the sixties and seventies Heston was known to give a helping hand to young filmmakers who were having a hard time getting their stuff made. Tom Gries comes to mind. I think he also worked with Peckinpah.

    Miguel Vargas (none / 0) (#25)
    by Daryl24 on Sun Apr 06, 2008 at 02:21:21 PM EST
    Touch of Evil. And that Quinlan guy...

    Heston said he learned more about acting from Orson Welles than anyone else during his career.