Charlton Heston, the actor who played such memorable roles as Moses in “The Ten Commandments” and who met Jesus Christ face-to-face as a Jewish slave in the 1959 film, “Ben Hur,” a role which earned him an Oscar for best actor, died Saturday night at his Beverly Hills home. He was 84-years-old.
Heston “was seen by the world as larger than life,” his family said in a statement.
The actor is also remembered for his political activism, including his involvement in the civil-rights movement and his stand for the right to bear arms. He was at one time a Democrat (before the democratic party took a hard left turn) having campaigned for John F. Kennedy. During the 1972 American presidential election, Heston declared his support for Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate … and later, became a strong Reagan Republican. Charlton Heston marched with civil rights leader Martin Luther King against segregation. And, like Ronald Reagan, served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Charlton Heston had a prolific second career as a strong gun-rights activist, and helped to legitimize gun issues in the national conscience.
“He put a good, honest, legitimate face on the great majority of legal gun owners in this country,” said Bob Baumann, a Long Island regional director of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
Heston led the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003. In one speech, Heston famously would say that the only way his gun would be taken away is “from my cold, dead hands.”
“It put it in those simple terms, ‘You’re not taking this from me,'” said Brian Pemberton, president of the Matinecock Gun Club in Glen Cove. “It put a lot of weight into that feeling. His legacy is that; that he’s a man that stood firm.”
Heston often defended the NRA against attacks from gun control advocates.
Senator John McCain stated that, “Off-the-screen, Charlton Heston was also a real-life leader. He served his country and proudly gave his voice in support of some of our most basic rights.”
Frank Sinatra once remarked that Charlton Heston had better watch out … if he’s not careful, he’ll give actors a good name.
Heston stood opposed to abortion and appeared in the introduction to a 1987 pro-life documentary on late-term abortions.
Charlton Heston also spoke frequently of the culture war waged by liberals. In a speech in 1997, Heston charged that a generation of liberal media, educators, entertainers, and politicians were waging a war against “the God-fearing, law-abiding, Caucasian, middle-class Protestant, or even worse, evangelical Christian, Midwestern or Southern, or even worse, rural, apparently straight, or even worse, admitted heterosexual, gun-owning, or even worse, NRA card-carrying, average working stiff, or even worse, male, working stiff because, not only don’t you count, you are a downright obstacle to social progress,” according to The Times Online.
President Bush, who presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Heston in 2003, praised Heston as “one of the most successful actors in movie history and a strong advocate for liberty.”
“He was a man of character and integrity, with a big heart,” Bush said.
I say Charlton Heston was a patriot warrior!