He was born in Evanson, Illinios, in 1923 and made his
movie dedut while at college in an amateur version of Peer Gynt (1941). Producer
Hal Wallis saw him acting on TV and signed him to a contract, starting
with Dark City (1950). De Mille used him for The Greatest Show on Earth
(1952) in which he was supposed to be another good looking peice of screen furniture
but he proved to be much more. He played Moses in the Ten
Commandments for the same director in 1956. A biblical Epic which was a
unrivalled success at the time and is still in the top ten grossing movies of
His greatest role came in 1959 when he played the lead
in William Wyler's Ben-Hur for which he won a well
deserved oscar. He first went behind the camera in 1972 and has starred in all
the films he has directed including Antony And Cleopatra (1972) and Mother Lode
He is also the National Rifle Association president
and has recently made headlines due to his stand on the right of all Americans
to bare arms as dictated in the American constitution. Although this stance
is admirable, it has made him popular with right-winged political groups such
as the KKK and White Power Neo-Nazis. It is ironic that a man who stood shoulder
to shoulder with Martin Luther King in civil rights marches in the 1960's should
be honoured in the 1990's by the very people he protested against with Doctor
Chris Browne 2000
Heston's earliest screen performances were seen in independently made productions ofJulius Caesar and Peer Gynt in the 1940s. But neither his Hollywood debut in 1950's Dark City nor his subsequent leading-man assignments (in the likes of Lucy Gallant and The Greatest Show on Earth could foretell the impact he would make as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's spectacular The Ten Commandments (1956), which started him on a long string of historical parts, including the title role in William Wyler's 1959Ben-Hur for which he won a Best Actor Oscar.
Heston went on to play the title role in Anthony Mann's excellent wide-screen epic El Cid (1961), and portrayed Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). He also worked in a number of Westerns, including Peckinpah's Major Dundee (1965) and Will Penny (1968, one of Heston's personal favorites). In 1968 he played an astronaut trapped on a simianrun Earth in Planet of the Apes reprising the role in its first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). The brief sci-fi vogue of those years also saw him inThe Last Man on Earth remake, The Omega Man (1971), and the eco-cannibal thriller Soylent Green (1973).
Heston was a near-constant presence in 1970s disaster films, including the notorious Earthquake (1974). While he turned up less and less on the big screen in the 1980s, he could be seen more and moreironically enough-on TV, both as a spokesperson for the many conservative issues he espouses and in many made-forcable period pieces, including remakes of A Man for All Seasons (1988, which he also directed) and Treasure Island (1990). In 1991 he went rather against type, portraying distinctly un-rugged detective Sherlock Holmes in the made-for-cable The Crucifer of Blood He was directed in this, and several other recent productions, by his son Fraser. He published a diary, "The Actor's Life," in 1978.
OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1953: Pony Express 1954: The Naked Jungle 1955: The Far Horizons (as Bill Clark of Lewis and Clark); 1958: The Buccaneer (as Andrew Jackson), The Big Country 1965: The War Lord 1966: Khartoum 1969: Number One 1970: Julius Caesar, The Hawaiians 1972: Call of the Wild 1973: Antony and Cleopatra (also directed and adapted); 1974: Airport 1975, The Three Musketeers (as Cardinal Richelieu); 1975: The Four Musketeers 1976: The Last Hard Men, Midway, Two-Minute Warning 1978: Crossed Swords 1982: Mother Lode (also directed); 1990: Almost an Angel (a cameo, as God), Little Kidnappers (made for TV); 1992: Solar Crisis 1993: Tombstone, Wayne's World 2 (as the "Good Actor"); 1994: True Lies 1995: In the Mouth of Madness
Copyright © 1994 Leonard Maltin, used by arrangement with Signet, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.