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Actor Charlton Heston, film icon and NRA leader, is dead

Charlton Heston, the Hollywood legend and political force, has died.

A commanding Hollywood figure is goneOscar-winner Charlton Heston most famously portrayed Moses in The Ten Commandments. But that was not the only icon the legend inhabited onscreen. From Michelangelo to President Andrew Jackson, Heston defined an era of cinematic grandeur that may currently seem antiquated next to talking aliens.

Heston passed away at his Beverly Hills home Saturday, and the news ricocheted through Hollywood.

Whether he was relentlessly driving his horses in 1959’s triumph, Ben Hur, or spoofing himself in later roles and cameos, Heston’s steely blue eyes pierced the screen. Famously coining a slew of movie lines, the most famous is probably, “Damn, dirty apes!” from The Planet of the Apes. (See photos of Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes on the following pages.)

The actor had been fighting an affliction similar to Alzheimer’s, and had not been seen much since his diagnosis in 2002. Considering his persona is deeply rooted in power — whether raising a staff and parting the Red Sea as Moses or leading a chariot race in Ben Hur that, to this day, is considered one of film’s best action scenes — seeing Heston weakened was never an option.

Rowing towards freedom

For a decade prior to his diagnosis, Heston was most famously known as the head of the National Rifle Association. The lobbying group tapped the actor as its face, voice and leader to fight any threat to the second amendment of the Constitution. He famously said, “I’m Charlton Heston, and I’m a member of the NRA.”

Charlton Heston was 84, and his presence in Hollywood will never quite be matched. Although many in Hollywood made their distance from him because of his NRA leadership, in the coming days, watch for celebrities to unify in hailing his cinematic presence.
See more photos of Charlton Heston — both recent and from years long past — on the next pages.

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