Charlton Heston - biography

(Evanston, Illinois, USA, October 4, 1924 - Beverly Hills, California, USA, April 5, 2008)

Charlton Heston, a legend of American epic film spectacles, was born as John Charles Carter. He first began acting at the Northwestern University in 1941 when he starred in the university’s film production Peter Gynt. He also worked as a radio actor. During WW II, Heston spent three years in the Air Force. After the war, he worked as a model in New York. There he met his future wife Lydia Clarke. Together they ran a theater in Asheville, North Carolina but in 1948 returned to New York, where Heston made his Broadway debut in the play Anthony and Cleopatra. He first became popular thanks to classical hero roles on CBS’s TV program Studio One. He made his debut in Hollywood with the film Dark City (1950). Afterwards he starred in The Savage (1952), Ruby Gentry (1952), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Pony Express (1953), The President's Lady (1953) and The Ten Commandments (1956) starring Moses, in which he played his first role in a series of many great historical heroes. He is most famous for his portrayal of Ben Hur in the film Ben Hur (1959), for which he won an Oscar. He also starred in El Cid (1961); played John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) and an English general in Khartoum (1966). Another important role was in Touch of Evil (1958). In the mid-1960s the historical film genre became less popular and Heston turned to westerns (Will Penny, 1968), war dramas (Midway, 1976) and Sci-Fi’s: Planet of the Apes (1968), The Omega Man (1971), Soylent Green (1973). During the 1970s he tried acting in catastrophe flicks like Airport 1975 (1974) and Earthquake (1974), and in the late 1980s and early 1990s he returned to the small screen appearing in TV shows and films. He was a six-term president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971. In 1977 at the Oscar’s ceremony he was awarded the Jean Hersholt award for Humanitarian Activities. He was also well-known as a conservative Republican and caused controversy with his endorsement of the National Rifle Association. As its president (1998 - 2003) he worked hard to propagate the right to bear arms. In 2002 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and in 2003 he stopped acting.