Charlton Heston

Actor

Born: 4 October 1923
Died: 5 April 2008
Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois
Best known as: Moses in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments

Name at birth: John Charles Carter

Charlton Heston's rugged appearances in epics like The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959) made him one of the biggest movie stars of the 1950s. The biblical story The Ten Commandments starred Heston as a powerful Moses, and the slaves-and-gladiators epic Ben-Hur won Heston an Oscar as best actor. Heston remained a box-office draw in adventures and westerns through the 1960s and '70s, as he starred in films like the sci-fi hit Planet of the Apes (1968, with Roddy McDowall), Will Penny (1968) and the WWII naval spectacular Midway (1976, with Henry Fonda). In later years Heston applied his rugged good looks and dignified manner to conservative political causes; most notably, he became president of the National Rifle Association. Heston announced in August of 2002 that he had early symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. He finished his NRA term in April of 2003, and made no further public appearances until his death in 2008. He wrote the memoirs The Actor's Life (1978) and In the Arena (1995).

Extra credit: Heston had a cameo role in Tim Burton's 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes... Heston played the Spanish historical hero El Cid in the hit 1961 film El Cid... One of Heston's lines from Planet of the Apes has become a pop culture favorite: "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

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