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Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston

Academy Award-winner Charlton Heston has starred in more than 80 films and as many theater productions. After appearing in a school play, the Evanston, Illinois native decided to become an actor, going on to major in theater at Northwestern University. After serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he relocated to New York and then to Ashville, North Carolina, where he and his wife, Lydia, became co-directors and performers in the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater. In 1948 Heston made his Broadway debut in Anthony and Cleopatra and simultaneously became one of the first actors to achieve success in the new medium of the time, television, with leads in Studio One and other dramatic programs. His starring role in David Bradley's widely acclaimed Julius Caesar caught the attention of Hollywood producer Hal Wallis who cast him as the lead in Dark City. Immediately after, Cecil B. DeMille signed him for The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Heston's shining moment came in 1959 when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Ben-Hur. Since that time, he has earned numerous overseas equivalents of the Oscar, including Germany's top honor, the Bambi, Italy's David Di Donatello Award and Belgium's Til Udenspiegel (a record-breaking three times).

In 1971 Heston made his bow as a director with the film version of Anthony and Cleopatra,and played the lead. Just a very few of his numerous and memorable film credits are The Buccaneer, The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Khartoum, The Three Musketeers, Touch of Evil, Ruby Gentry, The Far Horizons, The Big Country, Major Dundee, The War Lord, Planet of the Apes, Will Penny, The Hawaiians, Midway, The Omega Man and Two-Minute Warning. He starred in and directed A Man For All Seasons for Cable, in 1988.

He made his debut as an author in 1977 with the best-selling The Actor's Life: Journals 1956 to 1976, followed by Beijing Diary, about a remarkable experience in China directing The Caine Mutiny with an all-Chinese cast. Heston has written an autobiography, In the Arena; a two-disc CD-ROM tour of Biblical sites, Voyage Through the Bible; a memoir of his film career, Charlton Heston's Hollywood; and a reflection on life in To Be A Man: Letter to My Grandson. His most recent book is The Courage to Be Free, a collection of essays and speeches that articulate his reverence for individual freedom, which he is selling directly via the Internet.

On television, Heston starred on Aaron Spelling's The Colbys, as well as the television movie Proud Men, voted by TV Guide as one of the year's best. In the 1980s, his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasonsbroke theater box-office records and drew critical acclaim in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and London. He continues to divide his time between film and the stage, recently appearing with wife Lydia in multi-city performances of the romantic comedy Love Letters. Heston also recently starred in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, Disney's Hercules, Oliver Stone's Any Given Sundayand the current release Town and Country. He just wrapped production in Israel for an as-yet-untitled film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Heston received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1977. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1966 to 1971 and later became chairman of the American Film Institute.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2000.

Charlton Heston Facts

Birth NameJohn Charlton Carter
BirthdayOctober 4, 1924
BirthplaceEvanston, Illinois, USA
Date of deathApril 5, 2008 (age 83)
Height6' 3" (1m91)  How tall is Charlton Heston compared to you?
Awards1972 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Life Achievement Award
1967 Golden Globe Awards: Cecil B. DeMille Award
1960 Academy Awards: Best Actor (for Ben-Hur)

Selected Filmography

The Ten Commandments
True Lies
Ben Hur
Ben-Hur: Ultimate Collector's Edition
Bible According to Hollywood
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