Charlton Heston life and biography

Charlton Heston picture, image, poster

Charlton Heston biography

Date of birth : 1923-10-04
Date of death : 2008-04-05
Birthplace : No Man's Land, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-08-14
Credited as : Film actor, Epic, 20/20

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Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as El Cid, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes and Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also is well known for his roles in the films Touch of Evil and The Greatest Show on Earth.

Heston was also known for his political activism. In the 1950s and 1960s he was one of a handful of Hollywood actors to speak openly against racism and was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Initially a moderate Democrat, he later supported conservative Republican policies and was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003.

Heston was born John Charles Carter, the only child of Lila (née Charlton; 1899-1994) and Russell Whitford Carter (1897-1966), a mill operator. Most sources state that he was born in Evanston, Illinois. Heston's autobiography, however, and some other sources place his birth in No Man's Land, Illinois, which usually refers to a then-unincorporated area now part of Wilmette, a wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Heston said in a 1995 interview that he was not very good at remembering addresses or his early childhood.

Heston was of English and Scottish descent and was a member of the Fraser clan.

In his autobiography, Heston refers to his father participating in his family's construction business. When Heston was an infant his father's work moved the family to St. Helen, Michigan. It was a rural, heavily forested part of the state, and Heston lived an isolated yet idyllic existence spending much time hunting and fishing in the backwoods of the area.

When Heston was 10 years old, his parents divorced. Shortly thereafter, his mother married Chester Heston. The new family moved back to Wilmette. Heston (his new surname) attended New Trier High School.

Throughout Heston's life he was known by friends as "Chuck" although his wife always called him "Charlie." His stage name Charlton Heston is drawn from his mother's maiden surname (Charlton) and his stepfather's surname (Heston), and was used for his first film, Peer Gynt.

Richard Corliss wrote in TIME magazine, "From start to finish, Heston was a grand, ornery anachronism, the sinewy symbol of a time when Hollywood took itself seriously, when heroes came from history books, not comic books. Epics like Ben-Hur or El Cid simply couldn't be made today, in part because popular culture has changed as much as political fashion. But mainly because there's no one remotely like Charlton Heston to infuse the form with his stature, fire and guts."

In his obituary for the actor, film critic Roger Ebert noted "Heston made at least three movies that almost everybody eventually sees: Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes."

Heston's cinematic legacy was the subject of Cinematic Atlas: The Triumphs of Charlton Heston, an eleven-film retrospective by the Film Society of the Lincoln Center that was shown at the Walter Reade Theater from August 29 to September 4, 2008.

On April 17, 2010, Heston was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Hall of Great Western Performers.

n 1996, Heston had a hip replacement. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998. Following a course of radiation treatment, the cancer went into remission. In 2000, he publicly disclosed that he had been treated for alcoholism at a Utah clinic in May-June of that year. On August 9, 2002, Heston publicly announced he was diagnosed with symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.

In July 2003, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House from President George W. Bush. In March 2005, various newspapers reported that family and friends were shocked by the progression of his illness, and that he was sometimes unable to get out of bed.

Heston died on April 5, 2008, at his home in Beverly Hills, California, with Lydia, his wife of 64 years, by his side. He was also survived by his son, Fraser Clarke Heston, and adopted daughter, Holly Ann Heston.


January 1, 2002 Film Genre "Epic" Himself
December 20, 2002 20/20 "Episode: December 20, 2002" Himself
February 15, 2003 Ben Hur (animated) Ben-Hur (voice)


September 21, 1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse "The Last Chance"
November 3, 1952 Lux Radio Theatre "Viva Zapata!" Emiliano Zapata Jean Peters
February 2, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre "Captain Carey, U.S.A." Webster Carey Wanda Hendrix
September 28, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre "The President's Lady" Andrew Jackson Joan Fontaine
June 7, 1954 Lux Radio Theatre "The Naked Jungle" Christopher Leiningen Donna Reed
December 14, 1954 Lux Radio Theatre "Secret of the Incas" Harry Steele Nicole Maurey

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