Charlton Heston was one of the greatest movie stars who ever lived.
He, of course, played the larger than life Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” Things don’t get too much bigger than that in Hollywood.
His life was filled with political fervor, too. Second nature, I guess; caring about the country and having the strength of character to actually put thoughts, words, and feelings into motion.
Heston supported Democrats Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy and stood alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C.
Even though he opposed the Vietnam War, Heston made it a point to visit the troops, look into the faces, grip the hands, ease the load, if only for the moment.
At one point he changed party labels and took on the GOP designation. He became a champion of civil liberties, spurred on by the Robert Bork battle and Bork’s eventual denial of a Supreme Court seat.
Heston became a foot soldier in the fight against political correctness, which he referred to as “tyranny with manners.”
Despite the media and their railing against him, in the 1960s Heston held fast to his civil rights activist promptings. And in the 1990s he upheld “freedom in the truest sense” with his Second Amendment advocacy.
Like dust from a chariot wheel, Heston brushed off the personal attacks of his opponents. “I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 — long before Hollywood found it fashionable,” he said.
When in a speech he tried to make a point about the concept of pride of heritage, black, white or red, he was called a racist. When on another occasion he took exception to the idea of having special rights based on sexual orientation, he was labeled a homophobe. These are only two of the many blows he suffered in the line of free speech duty.
Still, he remained undeterred in expressing his ideas and beliefs in the public arena.
Heston saw parallels between America of the 1990s and ancient Rome, disturbed by the societal signals he perceived especially in the entertainment realm. “Our culture has replaced the bloody arena fights of ancient Rome with stage fights on TV with Sally, Ricki, Jerry, Jenny and Rosie,” he lamented.
Despite risk to career and legacy, he admonished the Hollywood community, telling them, “We see films made that diminish the American experience and example. And sometimes trash it completely.”
Summing up his professional life, Heston said, “I've played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses and that's probably enough for any man.”
Not just any man, an American archetype.
Go rest high upon the mountain, Chuck.
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