Charlton Heston (October 4, 1924-April 5, 2008)

“Take your stinkin‘ paws off me you d–n, dirty ape!”

“You maniacs! D–n you all to hell!”

Soylent Green is made of people!”

“Turn from thy fierce wrath, Oh Lord!”

“Those who shall not live by the law…”

“The day Rome falls, there shall be a shout of freedom such as the world has never heard before!”

“Judas Priest!”

“From my cold, dead hand!”

Well, the world has lost a legend today. We’ve lost a lot of them over the past few years: Jerry Falwell, William F. Buckley, Jr. These are people you think are immortal, until their mortality proves otherwise.

Charlton Heston has always been my favorite actor. I’m sure that there are a lot of his movies that I have not seen, but two of them rank among my favorites: The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes. I watch The Ten Commandments every Passover season, and each year I get something new out of it. And Planet of the Apes is intriguing sci fi that touches such issues as the creation/evolution controversy and nuclear war.

I also liked Charlton Heston because of his politics. He was an outspoken Republican, particularly in the last twenty years of his life. He was obviously a convert to conservatism, for he was not always in the GOP. He supported Adlai Stevenson for President in the 1950’s, as well as some restrictions on guns in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And, despite Michael Moore’s disingenuous attempt in Bowling for Columbine to depict him as a racist, Heston marched in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, before it was deemed fashionable for actors to do so. As a matter of fact, he sparked controversy by performing an interracial kiss in one of his movies.

My dad and his friends are members of the NRA, and they always called him “our President.” When I was in seventh grade, my liberal social studies teacher showed a speech by Charlton Heston to the NRA, some years before his Presidency of that organization. “Some of you will hang on his every word,” my teacher said, looking at me. And I did, since Heston made good points. He pointed out, for example, that Washington, D.C. has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, yet also a high crime rate. I know that Heston had Alzheimer’s in the later years of his life, so I hope he was able to celebrate the recent Supreme Court decision that upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Liberals criticized Heston because he had NRA conventions in cities where school shootings had recently occurred. This wasn’t necessarily deliberate on his part. Often, they were planned long before the shootings had taken place. But why should Heston have cancelled the conventions, as if the NRA is somehow to blame? It just astounds me how many liberals expect the whole world to embrace their presuppositions, even though a lot of people clearly do not.

Speaking of Heston and guns, Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine actually makes Heston look good, in areas, although the overall depiction of him is quite negative.  I didn’t realize that getting to see Charlton Heston was so easy. Michael Moore just spoke into the intercom, introduced himself, and made an appointment with the big man himself. Although Heston was one of the most famous actors of all time, he was still humble, friendly, and accessible.

And so I’ll miss Charlton Heston. But I’ll see him this coming Passover when I watch The Ten Commandments.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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