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Rest In Peace Charlton Heston

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Charlton Heston has died at the age of 84.

While this might be an opportunity to lambaste Heston for his crusade of right wing causes for the last decade, let's remember that, on this 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., that Heston used to be a liberal Democrat who participated in the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. He also opposed McCarthyism, the Vietnam War, and despised Richard Nixon - he was obviously a more complex person than what Michael Moore allowed us to see in "Bowling for Columbine".

Heston was a better actor than activist. With his passing we lose the man who _made_ the movies "Ben-Hur", "El Cid", "Major Dundee", "The Agony and the Esctasy", "Planet of the Apes", "The Omega Man", and "Soylent Green". He also helped establish the blockbuster franchise series "The Three Musketeers", "Earthquake", and "Airport 1975" as well as carried, just by his name appearing in the credits, TV shows like "The Colbys". Despite being such a "conservative" Heston was not afraid to host "Saturday Night Live" or appear on "The Howard Stern Radio Show" in his 70s.

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Even though the majority of Charlton Heston's major films were from a different era we have still lost the most modern and convincing personifications of Moses, John the Baptist, Cardinal Richelieu, and Michaelangelo. OK, so you might think these historical roles are fuddy duddy - but it can't be denied that Heston was one of very few established major actors who eagerly and successfully embraced the science fiction, horror, and disaster genres and helped usher them into their heyday in the '70s - for a decade Heston chaperoned us through one apocalyptic scenario after another and not always with a happy ending.

Whether wandering in the Sinai Desert in 1500 BC, or in the future a thousand years from now, Heston stood tall, and was the voice of reason and authority. While some might say that his off-screen roles were not always perfect, a movie _with_ Charlton Heston was always better than anything else in the theater for many decades and even today, because of AMC and TCM, there's a very good chance that you'd choose a Heston movie over new programming any day of the week.

Rest in Peace Chuck.

Listen to "The President's Lady," from Hollywood Radio Theater originally aired on September 28, 1953 starring Charlton Heston and Joan Fontaine:

Photo for Charlton Heston at the 1963 March on Washington by NARA via pingnews on Flickr creative commons