Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing "Ben-Hur" and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, has died. He was 84.
The actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said.
Powers declined to comment on the cause of death or provide further details.
"Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life. He was known for his chiseled jaw, broad shoulders and resonating voice, and, of course, for the roles he played," Heston's family said in a statement. "No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country."
Heston revealed in 2002 that he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease, saying, "I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure."
With his large, muscular build, well-boned face and sonorous voice, Heston proved the ideal star during the period when Hollywood was filling movie screens with panoramas depicting the religious and historical past. "I have a face that belongs in another century," he often remarked.
Publicist Michael Levine, who represented Heston for about 20 years, said the actor's passing represented the end of an iconic era for cinema.
"If Hollywood had a Mt. Rushmore, Heston's face would be on it," Levine said. "He was a heroic figure that I don't think exists to the same degree in Hollywood today."
The actor assumed the role of leader offscreen as well. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild and chairman of the American Film Institute and marched in the civil rights movement of the 1950s. With age, he grew more conservative and campaigned for conservative candidates.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
RIP: Charlton Heston (1923-2008)
Screen legend Charlton Heston died at the age of 84. May he rest in peace. In my opinion, he's best known as Moshe.