So much emphasis has been placed on politics lately that, when most people think of Charlton Heston, they think of one thing—the N.R.A. Yes, Charlton Heston was an outspoken member of the National Rifle Association. But he was also a widely admired actor with a style all his own—why else would Wayne Campbell (a.k.a. Mike Myers) have chosen him to show what a great actor can do with a simple scene in Wayne's World 2?
Heston's hilarious cameo in that film came close to half a century after he began his life as a thespian. Born Charles Carter in St. Helen, Mich., in 1924, Charlton Heston studied drama before starring in a college production of Peer Gynt and working on radio. After three years in the Air Force, he worked as a model and opened a theater in North Carolina. Heston debuted on Broadway in 1947, then earned a regular spot on the TV series Studio One.
His standout performances in that series led to roles in Dark City (1950),Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show On Earth (1952) and more Hollywood films. DeMille called on him again for his epic The Ten Commandments (1956)—Heston's watershed film. In 1958, he had a memorable role—as a Mexican policeman!—in Orson Welles' post-noir masterpiece Touch of Evil. An Oscar-winning role in Ben Hur (1959) followed, plus El Cid (1961), The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) and two hit Planet of the Apes films (1968, 1970).
Heston met with disaster in the '70s—well, his characters did, anyway. He starred in some of the decade's most riveting disaster flicks, including Earthquake and Airport 1975 (both 1974). More film work followed in the '80s and into the '90s, as did many made-for-TV movies and miniseries. In addition to his well-known political conservatism and his prominent membership in the N.R.A., Heston also has served as the president of the Screen Actors Guild and as the chairman of the American Film Institute.
Heston passed away on April 5, 2008, at the age of 84.
From sci-fi classics to historical epics to nail-biting disaster films, we've got all of Heston's best available on Blu-ray and DVD.