Charlton Heston was a Hollywood actor, whose career span of six decades boasts of nearly 100 films. Heston is known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, “Ben-Hur” and “Planet of the Apes.” He was the recipient of a Golden Globe Award nomination for his portrayal of Moses in “The Ten Commandments.” Heston is also a known political activist and was a supporter of Ronald Reagan. From 1998 until 2003, Heston served as the president of America’s National Rifle Association for five years consecutively. Born as John Charles Carter, to parents Russell Carter and Leela Charlton, Heston grew up in Illinois, where he studied at the New Trier High School. Charlton took up the surname “Heston,” after his mother’s second marriage to Chester Heston. Heston’s acting career began in 1941, with a 16mm film titled “Peer Gynt,” adapted from Henrik Gibson’s play of the same name, directed by
. Heston was then awarded a drama scholarship which led him to the Northwestern University, where Alvina Krause taught. A few years later, Heston had to join the United States Army during WW-II, where he served as an aerial gunner and a radio operator for two years. Heston got married to Lydia Clarke in 1944. 1950 saw Heston in a lead role in the crime-drama “Dark City.” In the year 1951, Heston and David Bradley teamed up for the film adaptation of Julius Caesar. Heston played Mark Anthony in the movie. The following year, Heston was cast in “The Greatest Show on Earth,” directed by Cecil B. DeMille, followed by “Secret of the Incas.” 1956 saw Heston play his most memorable role as Moses in The Ten Commandments. A couple of years later, Heston, was cast a Mexican Police Officer in the crime-drama, “Touch of Evil,” directed by Orson Welles. In 1959, Heston played his Academy Award-winning portrayal in Ben-Hur. Rock Hudson,
initially turned down the opportunity to feature in the lead role of the film.
Ben-Hur was presented with an astounding eleven Oscars, and also bestowed Heston with an Academy Award. The following years saw Heston in movies such as “El Cid,” “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” “55 Days at Peking,” “Khartoum” and Will Penny. 1965 saw Heston being appointed as the president of the Screen Actors Guild, and he held the post right up to 1971. Heston also featured in Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man,
The Three Musketeers
, True Lies, Hamlet, Any Given Sunday, “Cats & Dogs,” and Tombstone, just to name a few. Heston served as a narrator in various movies such as Disney’s “
,” Armageddon, and numerous documentaries. Heston’s theater career began with a supporting role in the play “Anthony and Cleopatra” at Broadway. He’s also featured in various television series such as “The Colbys,” F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and on shows such as the “Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,”
Saturday Night Live
, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, 20/20, and Mad TV, among many others. Heston was among the few people to have held a “Q Clearance,” which is the United States highest level of security clearance of Defense. In 1998, Heston was diagnosed with prostate cancer, for which he was treated, although there was a remission, a few years later. On April 5th, 2008, Heston passed away as the result of his long-term battle with Alzheimer’s, and pneumonia. Heston’s funeral saw numerous people such as Nancy Reagan, , Tom Selleck, and among many others.