Charlton Heston, who appeared in some 100 films in his 60-year acting career but who is remembered chiefly for his monumental, jut-jawed portrayals of Moses, Ben-Hur and Michelangelo, died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 84, according to his family. His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the family, Bill Powers, who declined to discuss the cause. In August 2002, Mr. Heston announced that he had been diagnosed with neurological symptoms "consistent with Alzheimer's disease." "I'm neither giving up nor giving in," he said ... Mr. Heston was always able to channel some energies into the public arena. He was an active supporter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., calling him "a 20th-century Moses for his people," and participated in the historic march on Washington in 1963. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971, following in the footsteps of his friend and role model Ronald Reagan. A registered Democrat for many years, he was nevertheless selective in the candidates he chose to support and often campaigned for conservatives ... Mr. Heston frequently spoke out against what he saw as evidence of the decline and debasement of American culture. In 1992, appalled by the lyrics on "Cop Killer," a recording by the rap artist Ice T, he blasted the album at a Time Warner stockholders meeting and was a force in having it withdrawn from the marketplace. In the 1996 elections, he campaigned on behalf of some 50 Republican candidates and began to speak out against gun control. In 1997, he was elected vice president of the N.R.A. In December of that year, as the keynote speaker at the 20th anniversary gala of the Free Congress Foundation, Mr. Heston described "a cultural war" raging across America, "storming our values, assaulting our freedoms, killing our self-confidence in who we are and what we believe" ... The next year, at 73, he was elected president of the N.R.A. ... Mr. Heston continued working through the 1990s, acting more frequently on television but also in occasional films. His most recent film appearance found him playing a cameo role, in simian makeup, in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of "Planet of the Apes." He had announced in 1999 that he was receiving radiation treatments for prostate cancer. He had always hated the thought of retirement and once explained his relentless drive as an actor. "You never get it right," he said in a 1986 interview. "Never once was it the way I imagined it lying awake at 4 o'clock in the morning thinking about it the next day." His goal remained, he said, "To get it right one time."
Remembered in his roles as Moses (The Ten Commandments), Judah Ben-Hur (Ben-Hur), Michelangelo (The Agony and the Ecstacy) and as a futuristic astronaut George Taylor (Planet of the Apes), it is clear that Heston left an indelible mark on Hollywood. While I disagree with and staunchly oppose his (what I feel are) ultraconservative views on gun control and free speech, I cannot deny that he was a remarkable actor who portrayed some of the most iconic characters (in some of the most iconic films) in movie history. This is a very sad day for Hollywood, Heston will be sorely missed. [Source]