Charlton Heston

From Academic Kids

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Charlton Heston (born October 4, 1924), born John Charles Carter, is an American film actor noted for heroic roles.


Youth and early acting career

Heston was born in Evanston, Illinois to Lila Charlton and Russell Whitford Carter. The family settled in rural Saint Helen, Michigan, where Heston, an only child, spent much of his time reading and practicing acting.

Before he was 10 his parents divorced. Some years later, his mother married Chester Heston. The new family moved Winnetka, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where young Heston attended high school. He enrolled in the school's drama program, where he performed with such outstanding results that he earned a scholarship to Northwestern University for drama in 1942. There he played in the 16mm amateur film adaptation of Peer Gynt made by a fellow student. Several years later the same team produced Julius Caesar, in which Heston played Marc Antony.

In 1944, Heston left college and enlisted in the United States Army Air Force. He served for three years as a B-25 radio operater/gunner stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant.

When he returned from service in World War II he moved to New York, where he met Lydia Marie Clarke, whom he married in 1944. The two lived in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, where they worked as models. Seeking a way to make it in theater, they decided to manage a playhouse in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1947, they went back to New York where Heston was offered a role in the Broadway play Antony and Cleopatra, for which he earned acclaim. He also had success in television, playing a number of roles in CBS's Studio One, one of the most popular anthology dramas of the 1950s.

Film career

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The artist's rendering of a bare-headed Charlton Heston as Moses was bulked up to modern physique standards when the DVD was released

Heston felt the time had come to move to Hollywood and break into film. In 1950, he earned recognition for his appearance in his first professional movie, Dark City. His breakthrough came in 1952 with his role of a circus director in The Greatest Show on Earth. But he became a megastar by portraying Moses in The Ten Commandments. He has played leading roles in a number of fictional and historical epics—such as Ben-Hur, El Cid, 55 Days in Peking, and Khartoum—during his long career. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1959 performance in the title role of Ben-Hur.

Heston also starred in various science fiction films and disaster movies, some of which, like Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Earthquake, and The Omega Man, have become classics. Heston continues acting, increasingly in TV movies.

Heston fought at times for his artistic choices. In 1958, he maneuvered Universal International into allowing Orson Welles to direct him in Touch of Evil, and in 1965 he fought the studio in support of Sam Peckinpah, when an attempt was made to interfere with his direction of Major Dundee. Heston was also president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971.

In 1971 he made his directorial debut with Antony and Cleopatra, an adaptation of the William Shakespeare play that he had performed during his earlier theater career.

Starting with 1973's The Three Musketeers, Heston began playing an increasing number of supporting roles and cameos. Despite this, his immense popularity has never died, and he has seen a steady stream of film and television roles ever since. Heston has an instantly recognizable voice, and is often heard as a narrator.

Off screen

Heston was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, and it went into remission the next year following a course of radiation treatment. In August 2002, Heston publicly announced that he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In July 2003 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, from President George W. Bush at the White House. In March 2005, various newspapers reported that family and friends of Heston were apparently shocked by the progress of his illness, and that he is sometimes unable to get out of bed.

Political beliefs

In his earlier years, Heston was a civil rights activist, accompanying Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights march held in Washington, D.C. in 1963. In subsequent years, he embraced conservative causes, such as anti-affirmative action and anti-gun control, about which he makes at times provocative statements. As an honorary life member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its president and spokesman from 1998 until his resignation in 2003, Heston sought an unprecedented fourth term in 2001 as president, at which time he declared, while holding an American Revolutionary War era musket over his head: "I have only five words for you — From my cold, dead hands." Heston also serves on the National Advisory Board of Accuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group. In a speech to the Harvard Law School on February 16, 1999, Heston said the following:

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.

Heston has been accused of making pro-gun speeches at inappropriate times, including making a speech at at an NRA rally in Denver shortly after the Columbine High School tragedy. Heston defended his political beliefs in Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine (2002). Moore confronted the actor about his involvement with the NRA. The interview ended with Heston walking out in his own house, leaving a bemused Moore to find a way out of the estate with his camera crew.


Heston has written several books, including autobiographies and religious books:


External links


es:Charlton Heston eo:Charlton HESTON fr:Charlton Heston it:Charlton Heston nl:Charlton Heston ja:チャールトン・ヘストン no:Charlton Heston sv:Charlton Heston


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