Happy birthday Charlton Heston!

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Charlton Heston (October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008) was an American actor who appeared on stage, on television, and in film. Some of his most notable performances include in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The Ten Commandments (1956), and Ben Hur (1959).

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Heston was born John Charles Carter to Lila and Russell Whitford Carter. He was most likely born in Evanston, Illinois. Heston spent most of his childhood in St. Helen, Michigan, fishing and hunting in the countryside. After his parents divorced and his mother remarried, he took on the surname after his stepfather and attended New Trier High School. While studying in the school's drama program, he appeared in a silent 16 mm amateur film adaptation of Peer Gynt. This led to a drama scholarship at Northwestern University. 

In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Air Force. He also married Lydia Marie Clarke. After the war ended, he and his wife moved to New York City, where they worked as artists' models. By 1947, they moved to Asheville, North Carolina to manage a playhouse, but soon returned when Heston was offered a part in a Broadway revival of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

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After appearing in CBS's Studio One, Heston decided to try his hand at film. He appeared in Dark City (1950), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), The Ten Commandments (1956), and in Ben Hur (1959), which won him 11 Oscars, including for Best Actor. He went on to appear in El Cid (1961), Khartoum (1966), and Planet of the Apes (1968).

Ben Hur

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El Cid

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Planet of the Apes

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In 1972, he made his directorial debut, directing Antony and Cleopatra, the same play which had hosted his Broadway debut.

He continued to play heroic, historic characters in period films throughout the beginning of the 1970s including in He appeared in Soylent Green (1973) and Earthquake (1974).

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The 1980s saw Heston's acting career wane, with him only appearing in and cameos, with the exception of his performance from 1985-1987 on the soap opera The Colbys. Some of the few films he did appear in substantially later on included The Awakening (1980), True Lies (1994), and Any Given Sunday (1999).

Heston was very politically active, in favor of the Civil Rights movement, but later turning to more conservative ideals. He wavered on gun control laws, ultimately serving as president of the National Rifle Association from 1998-2003. Though he initially opposed the Vietnam War, he later rescinded and argued it was necessary.

He has said, "Political correctness is tyranny with manners."

Heston was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2003.

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Heston at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C with Sidney Poitier (left) and Harry Belafonte. (source)

Selected works:

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 04 October 2014
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