People we love: Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston (born John Charles Carter) October 4, 1923 – April 5, 2008

Born on this Day in 1923.

Actor Charlton Heston was known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, El Cid and Planet of the Apes. He also starred in one of my personal favorites The Greatest Show on Earth. Heston won an Academy Award for Best Actor in Ben-Hur.

Heston served in World War II as a radio operator and aerial gunner in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Following the war he and his wife, Lydia Clark lived in New Yor where they worked as artists’ models. They later moved to Asheville, North Carolina where they managed a playhouse.

Heston’s first big break in Hollywood came when he was cast in The Greatest Show on Earth which went on to earn the Academy Award for best picture in 1952. He is perhaps most widely known for his role as Moses in The Ten Commandments.

The role of Ben-Hur, which won him an academy award was turned town by Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Rock Hudson.

In his early years of political activism, Heston was a Democrat, campaigning for Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. He accompanied Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington.

By the 1980s, Heston was a gun rights supporter and changed his affiliation to Republican. He said “I didn’t change. The Democratic party changed.”

Heston was president and spokesman for the National Rifle Association from 1998-2003. At the 2000 NRA convention he raised a rifle over his head and declared that an Al Gore administratoni woul take away his Second Amendment rights “from my cold, dead hands.”

Heston died on April 5, 2008 with his wife of 64 years, Lynda by his side. He was 84.

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