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Charlton Heston was an American film actor best known for his roles in Antony and Cleopatra, The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and Planet of the Apes (1968).
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Charlton Heston was an American actor born on October 4, 1923 in Evanston, Illinois. Known for portraying historic and heroic roles, Heston starred in popular films such as Antony and Cleopatra (1947), The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben Hur (1959) and Planet of the Apes (1968). The Oscar-winning actor championed for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King,
and in 2003 President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to movies and politics. Heston died on April 5, 2008 in California.
Actor John Charles Carter (Heston was his stepfather's name) was born on October 4, 1923, in Evanston, Illinois.
He made his film debut in an amateur production of Peer Gynt (1941) and, after air force war service and further theatre experience, his Broadway debut in Antony and Cleopatra (1947).
With his deep voice and noble physique, Heston portrayed historic or heroic roles in several epics.
He parted the Red Sea as Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956) and won an unforgettable chariot race in Ben Hur (1959), which won 11 Oscars, including best actor for Heston.
He also played an 11th-century Spanish warrior in El Cid (1961), British Gen. Charles "Chinese" Gordon fighting an Islamic warrior priest in Khartoum (1966) and an astronaut held captive by a society of intelligent gorilla rulers in Planet of the Apes (1968).
He displayed his potential as a character actor, playing a Mexican narcotics officer in the thriller Touch of Evil (1958), an 11th-century Norman authority figure in The War Lord (1965), and as an aging, illiterate cowboy in Will Penny (1967).
Frequently returning to the stage, he also directed for film and television, including Antony and Cleopatra (1972) and A Man for All Seasons (1988). Later film appearances included The Awakening (1980), as the boss of spy Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (1994) and Any Given Sunday (1999).
Heston was also president of the Screen Actors Guild (1965-71), helped create the American Film Institute and actively supported the National Endowment for the Arts.
A champion of civil rights (he participated in Dr. Martin Luther King's 1963 civil rights march in Washington, D.C.), Heston also served as president of the U.S. National Rifle Association (1998-2003).
Heston revealed in 2002 that he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease, saying, "I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure."
In 2003, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for his accomplishments in movies and politics. He was also awarded by the American Film Institute to honor acting talent.
Heston died April 5, 2008, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. His wife Lydia was at his side. The cause of death was not released, but he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.
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