We all knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any easier. CNN is reporting that actor, icon, and cinema legend Charlton Heston is dead. He was 84.
Like so many others his age, he’s suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease for years now. Saturday, in the late stages of the disease, it took him in his home.
You know Charlton Heston. He’s been a movie star since the 50s, and his career has spanned decades. He appeared in more than 100 films, more than a few of which the world will almost certainly be watching 100 years from now. His last work as an actor was in 2003, though most probably remember his final performance as a cameo in the 2001 Planet of the Apes remake in which, ironically, he played one of the damned dirty apes he spent so much of his career trying to escape.
Late in life Heston perhaps became better known as a gun advocate and leading representative of the NRA. An elderly, fading Heston was famously taken advantage of by filmmaker Michael Moore in his anti-gun diatribe Bowling for Columbine. Today is not the day for remembering that Charlton.
Today is a day for remembering the legend, and all the amazing, larger than life moments he gave us. For me, he’ll always be Moses, with his staff stretched out over the Red Sea, channeling the power of almighty god to part the waves before him. Or I’ll remember him as George Taylor, an astronaut crashed on a strange and bewildering world in which apes rule and man has been bred into a life of animal-like servitude. Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
Maybe to you he’s Detective Robert Thorn in Soylent Green, or Judah Ben-Hur racing his chariot, or Doctor Robert Neville in Omega Man. How ever you remember him, no one in Hollywood did gravitas, no one in Hollywood channeled raw power into his performances the way Charlton Heston did, and it’s unlikely that anyone ever will again.
For now I prefer to think of him out there somewhere, riding down a lonely beach, trapped on an alien world, fighting against impossible forces, battling with sheer force of will, to get back to us. He’s out there somewhere, spitting in the face of god and screaming at the heavens: Damn you! Damn you all to hell!