Charlton Heston


04 Oct 1923


Wilmette, Illinois, USA


John Charles Carter


With features chiseled in stone, and renowned for playing a long list of historical figures, particularly in Biblical epics, the tall, well built and ruggedly handsome Charlton Heston was one of Hollywood's greatest leading men and remained active in front of movie cameras for over sixty years. As a Hollywood star, he appeared in 100 films over the course of 60 years. He played Moses in the epic film, The Ten Commandments (1956), for which he received his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He also starred in Touch of Evil (1958) with Orson Welles; Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor (1959); El Cid (1961); and Planet of the Apes (1968). He also starred in the films The Greatest Show on Earth (1952); Secret of the Incas (1954); The Big Country (1958); and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). A supporter of Democratic politicians and civil rights in the 1960s, Heston later became a Republican, founding a conservative political action committee and supporting Ronald Reagan. Heston's most famous role in politics came as the five-term president of the National Rifle Association, from 1998 to 2003.

Heston was born John Charles Carter on October 4, 1924, in No Man's Land, Illinois, to Lila (Charlton) and Russell Whitford Carter, who operated a sawmill. He had English and Scottish ancestry, with recent Canadian forebears.

Heston made his feature film debut as the lead character in a 16mm production of Peer Gynt (1941), based on the Henrik Ibsen play. In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-25 Mitchell stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the 77th Bombardment Squadron of the Eleventh Air Force. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. Heston married Northwestern University student Lydia Marie Clarke, who was six months his senior. That same year he joined the military.

Heston played 'Marc Antony' in Julius Caesar (1950), and firmly stamped himself as genuine leading man material with his performance as circus manager 'Brad Braden' in the Cecil B. DeMille spectacular The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), also starring James Stewart and Cornel Wilde. The now very popular actor remained perpetually busy during the 1950s, both on TV and on the silver screen with audience pleasing performances in the steamy thriller The Naked Jungle (1954), as a treasure hunter in Secret of the Incas (1954) and another barn storming performance for Cecil B. DeMille as "Moses" in the blockbuster The Ten Commandments (1956).

Heston delivered further dynamic performances in the oily film noir thriller Touch of Evil (1958), and then alongside Gregory Peck in the western The Big Country (1958) before scoring the role for which he is arguably best known, that of the wronged Jewish prince who seeks his freedom and revenge in the William Wyler directed Ben-Hur (1959). This mammoth Biblical epic running in excess of three and a half hours became the standard by which other large scale productions would be judged, and it's superb cast also including Stephen Boyd as the villainous "Massala", English actor Jack Hawkins as the Roman officer "Quintus Arrius", and Australian actor Frank Thring as "Pontius Pilate", all contributed wonderful performances. Never one to rest on his laurels, steely Heston remained the preferred choice of directors to lead the cast in major historical productions and during the 1960s he starred as Spanish legend "Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" in El Cid (1961), as a US soldier battling hostile Chinese boxers during 55 Days at Peking (1963), played the ill-fated "John the Baptist" in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), the masterful painter "Michelangelo" battling Pope Julius II in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), and an English general in Khartoum (1966). In 1968, Heston filmed the unusual western Will Penny (1967) about an aging and lonely cowboy befriending a lost woman and her son, which Heston has often referred to as his favorite piece of work on screen. Interestingly, Heston was on the verge of acquiring an entirely new league of fans due to his appearance in four very topical science fiction films (all based on popular novels) painting bleak future's for mankind.

In 1968, Heston starred as time traveling astronaut "George Taylor", in the terrific Planet of the Apes (1968) with it's now legendary conclusion as Heston realizes the true horror of his destination. He returned to reprise the role, albeit primarily as a cameo, alongside fellow astronaut James Franciscus in the slightly inferior sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Next up, Heston again found himself facing the apocalypse in The Omega Man (1971) as the survivor of a germ plague that has wiped out humanity leaving only bands of psychotic lunatics roaming the cities who seek to kill the uninfected Heston. And fourthly, taking its inspiration from the Harry Harrison novel "Make Room!, Make Room!", Heston starred alongside screen legend Edward G. Robinson and Chuck Connors in Soylent Green (1973). During the remainder of the 1970s, Heston appeared in two very popular "disaster movies" contributing lead roles in the far fetched Airport 1975 (1974), plus in the star laden Earthquake (1974), filmed in "Sensoround" (low bass speakers were installed in selected theaters to simulate the earthquake rumblings on screen to movie audiences). He played an evil Cardinal in the lively The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974), a mythical US naval officer in the recreation of Midway (1976), also filmed in "Sensoround", an LA cop trying to stop a sniper in Two-Minute Warning (1976) and another US naval officer in the submarine thriller Gray Lady Down (1978). Heston appeared in numerous episodes of the high rating TV series Dynasty (1981) and The Colbys (1985), before moving onto a mixed bag of projects including TV adaptations of Treasure Island (1990) and A Man for All Seasons (1988), hosting two episodes of the comedy show, Saturday Night Live (1975), starring as the "Good Actor" bringing love struck Mike Myers to tears in Wayne's World 2 (1993), and as the eye patch wearing boss of intelligence agent Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies (1994). He also narrated numerous TV specials and lent his vocal talents to the animated movie Hercules (1997), the family comedy Cats & Dogs (2001) and an animated version of Ben Hur (2003). Heston made an uncredited appearance in the inferior remake of Planet of the Apes (2001), and his last film appearance to date was in the Holocaust themed drama of Rua Alguem 5555: My Father (2003).

Heston narrated for highly classified military and Department of Energy instructional films, particularly relating to nuclear weapons, and "for six years Heston [held] the nation's highest security clearance" or Q clearance." The Q clearance is similar to a DoD or Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) clearance of Top Secret.

Heston was married to Lydia Marie Clark Heston since March 1944, and they have two children. His highly entertaining autobiography was released in 1995, titled appropriately enough "Into The Arena". Although often criticized for his strong conservative beliefs and involvement with the NRA, Heston was a strong advocate for civil right many years before it became fashionable, and was a recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, plus the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and did appear in a film or TV production after 2003. He died in April 2008. Truly, Charlton Heston is one of the legendary figures of US cinema.

Actor ( 250 credits )

Facing Berlin (2016) Himself - Narrator (archive sound)
The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (2016) Himself
Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen (2013) Himself
Talking Pictures (2013)  Himself (archive footage) (unknown episodes)
The Parade (2011) Ben Hur (archive footage) (uncredited)
Making the Boys (2011) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Sing Your Song (2011) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010) Himself - Interviewee
Genghis Khan: The Story of a Lifetime (2010) Trogul
Special Collector's Edition (2010)  El Cid Rodrigo de Bivar / ... (1 episode, 2011)
Cine catastrófico (2010) Graff (archive footage)
Hollywood on the Tiber (2009) Himself (archive footage)
Religulous (2008) George Taylor (archive footage) (uncredited)
Il falso bugiardo (2008) Himself (archive footage)
Welsh Greats (2008)  Himself (1 episode, 2011)
La tele de tu vida (2007)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2007)
Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore (2007) Himself (archive footage)
De Madrid a la Lluna (2006) Himself (archive footage)
Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters (2006) Moses (archive footage) (uncredited)
I Love the '70s: Volume 2 (2006)  Himself (unknown episodes)
La rentadora (2006)  George Taylor (1 episode, 2007)
20 to 1 (2005)  Judah Ben-Hur (1 episode, 2010)
Sexes (2005)  Judah Ben-hur (1 episode, 2005)
The Naked Archaeologist (2005)  Ben-Hur / ... (archive footage) (2 episodes, 2006)
The Thief of Bagdad (2004) Texan Empire-Builder (archive footage)
Battleground (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2006)
Rua Alguem 5555: My Father (2003) The Father (Josef Mengele)
Bowling for Columbine (2002) Himself
Timeshift (2002)  Himself (1 episode, 2011)
Film Genre (2002)  Himself (1 episode, 2002)
Circle of Honor (2002)  Himself (1 episode, 2003)
The Order (2001) Prof. Walter Finley
Last Party 2000 (2001) Himself - President of the NRA
Planet of the Apes (2001) Zaius (uncredited)
Cats & Dogs (2001) The Mastiff (voice)
Town & Country (2001) Eugenie's Father
Hollywood at Your Feet: The Story of the Chinese Theatre Footprints (2000) Himself
Heston of the Apes (2000) Himself
The Weber Show (2000)  Himself (1 episode, 2000)
Any Given Sunday (1999) AFFA Football Commissioner
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild (1998) Narrator (voice)
Gideon (1998) Addison Sinclair
Armageddon (1998) Narrator (voice)
Gary Cooper: The Face of a Hero (1998)
E! Mysteries & Scandals (1998)  Himself (2 episodes, 1999-2000)
Sworn to Secrecy: Secrets of War (1998)  Narrator / ... (55 episodes, 1998-2002)
The Howard Stern Radio Show (1998)  Himself (1 episode, 1999)
El informal (1998)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2001)
Hercules (1997) Narrator (voice)
The Roseanne Show (1997)  Himself (1 episode, 1998)
La mandrágora (1997)  Himself (1 episode, 2007)
Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997) Himself (uncredited)
The Dark Mist (1996) Narrator (voice)
Hamlet (1996) Player King
Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right (1996) Himself
Alaska (1996) Perry
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 1997)
Adventures from the Book of Virtues (1996)  Cincinnatus (1 episode, 1998)
The O'Reilly Factor (1996)  Himself / ... (3 episodes, 2008)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
Ruby Wax Meets... (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
Àngels de nit (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
Get Shorty (1995) Mike Vargas (archive footage) (uncredited)
MADtv (1995)  Himself (1 episode, 2001)
The Outer Limits (1995)  Chief Justice Haden Wainwright (1 episode, 2000)
Very Important Pennis (1995)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
Heroes of Comedy (1995)  Himself (1 episode, 1999)
Advanced English: Interviews with the Famous (1995)  Himself
Private Screenings (1995)  Himself (1 episode, 1998)
A Century of Cinema (1994) Himself
In the Mouth of Madness (1994) Jackson Harglow
True Lies (1994) Spencer Trilby
Friends (1994)  Himself (1 episode, 1998)
Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1994)  Himself (1 episode, 1997)
Dennis Miller Live (1994)  Himself (1 episode, 1997)
Tombstone (1993) Henry Hooker
Wayne's World 2 (1993) Good Actor
SeaQuest 2032 (1993)  Abalon (1 episode, 1994)
Intimate Portrait (1993)  Himself (1 episode, 2001)
Corazón, corazón (1993)  Himself (2 episodes, 1995-1996)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993)  Himself (3 episodes, 1993-1998)
Symphony for the Spire (1992) Westmoreland / Poetry reciter
One on One with John Tesh (1991)  Himself (1 episode, 1991)
Això és massa! (1991)  Himself (1 episode, 1991)
Solar Crisis (1990) Adm. 'Skeet' Kelso
Almost an Angel (1990) God (uncredited)
Reflections on the Silver Screen (1990)  Himself (1 episode, 1991)
The Arsenio Hall Show (1989)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
The Pat Sajak Show (1989)  Himself (2 episodes, 1989)
Clive Anderson Talks Back (1989)  Himself (1 episode, 1995)
Call from Space (1989) Alien (voice)
Later with Bob Costas (1988)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
Talking Pictures (1988)  Himself (1 episode, 1988)
The Bold and the Beautiful (1987)  Charlton Heston (7 episodes, 1993)
Biography (1987)  Himself / ... (10 episodes, 1995-2001)
Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater (1987)  Henry Hooker (archive footage) (1 episode, 1995)
The Dame Edna Experience (1987)  Chuck / ... (2 episodes, 1987)
The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985) Himself
American Masters (1985)  Himself (1 episode, 1986)
The Colbys (1985)  Jason Colby (49 episodes, 1985-1987)
Regis Philbin's Lifestyles (1984)  Himself (1 episode, 1986)
Gran premio internazionale della TV (1984)  Himself (1 episode, 1988)
Aspel & Company (1984)  Himself (1 episode, 1985)
Mother Lode (1982) Silas McGee / Ian McGee
Wogan (1982)  Himself (2 episodes, 1987-1989)
Dynasty (1981)  Jason Colby (3 episodes, 1985)
Entertainment Tonight (1981)  Himself (4 episodes, 1990-2008)
The Awakening (1980) Matthew Corbeck
The Mountain Men (1980) Bill Tyler
The John Davidson Show (1980)  Himself (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Lou Rawls Parade of Stars (1980)  Himself (1 episode, 1986)
Gray Lady Down (1978) Capt. Paul Blanchard
20/20 (1978)  Himself (1 episode, 2002)
America 2-Night (1978)  Himself (1 episode, 1978)
Crossed Swords (1977) Henry VIII
Two-Minute Warning (1976) Capt. Peter Holly
America at the Movies (1976) Narrator (voice)
Midway (1976) Capt. Matt Garth
The Last Hard Men (1976) Sam Burgade
Evening Magazine (1976)  Himself (1 episode, 1979)
They Were There (1976) Himself
Saturday Night Live (1975)  Himself - Host / ... (3 episodes, 1983-1993)
Good Morning America (1975)  Himself (3 episodes, 1977-1986)
The London Programme (1975)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
Arena (1975)  Himself - Interviewee (1 episode, 1982)
The Fun of Your Life (1975) Narrator
The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge (1974) Cardinal Richelieu
Earthquake (1974) Graff
Airport 1975 (1974) Alan Murdock
Dinah! (1974)  Himself (3 episodes, 1975-1976)
A Look at the World of SOYLENT GREEN (1973) Himself
Adventures of Mowgli (1973) Narrator (voice)
The Three Musketeers (1973) Cardinal Richelieu
Soylent Green (1973) Detective Thorn
ABC Late Night (1973)  Himself (1 episode, 1974)
Jack Paar Tonite (1973)  Himself (1 episode, 1973)
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1973) Narrator
Antony and Cleopatra (1972) Marc Antony
Skyjacked (1972) Capt. Henry 'Hank' O'Hara
The Call of the Wild (1972) John Thornton
The Omega Man (1971) Neville
Parkinson (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
V.I.P.-Schaukel (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
The Two Ronnies (1971)  Bar Customer: Pinocchio II Segment (1 episode, 1987)
Vietnam! Vietnam! (1971) Narrator (voice)
The Last Man Alive (1971) Himself
Julius Caesar (1970) Marc Antony
The Hawaiians (1970) Whip Hoxworth
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) Taylor
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970) Himself
Dinah's Place (1970)  Himself (1 episode, 1973)
Film Night (1970)  Himself (1 episode, 1972)
The Festival Game (1970)
Number One (1969) Ron 'Cat' Catlan
This Is Your Life (1969)  Himself (2 episodes, 1974-1994)
The David Frost Show (1969)  Himself (3 episodes, 1969-1972)
Rod Laver's Wimbledon (1969) Narrator
The Heart of Variety (1969) Himself
Rowan & Martin at the Movies (1968) Himself
Planet of the Apes (1968) George Taylor
60 Minutes (1968)  Himself (1 episode, 2012)
The Dick Cavett Show (1968)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
The Movie Experience: A Matter of Choice (1968) Narrator
Will Penny (1967) Will Penny
Counterpoint (1967) Lionel Evans
Donahue (1967)  Himself (1 episode, 1977)
The Joey Bishop Show (1967)  Himself (1 episode, 1968)
Think Twentieth (1967) Himself
Mondo Hollywood (1967) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
While I Run This Race (1967) Narrator
All About People (1967) Narrator (voice)
The American Film: 1966 White House Festival of the Arts (1967) Himself / Narrator
Khartoum (1966) Gen. Charles 'Chinese' Gordon
A Whole Scene Going (1966)  Himself (1 episode, 1966)
The War Lord (1965) Chrysagon
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) Michelangelo
Major Dundee (1965) Maj. Amos Charles Dundee
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) John the Baptist
Verifica incerta - Disperse Exclamatory Phase (1965) (archive footage)
The Egyptologists (1965) Narrator
Cinema (1964)  Himself (1 episode, 1966)
The Eamonn Andrews Show (1964)  Himself (1 episode, 1965)
55 Days at Peking (1963) Maj. Matt Lewis
The Five Cities of June (1963) Narrator
Diamond Head (1962) Richard 'King' Howland
The Pigeon That Took Rome (1962) Captain Paul MacDougall / Benny the Snatch / Narrator
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)  Himself / ... (14 episodes, 1969-1992)
The Merv Griffin Show (1962)  Himself (7 episodes, 1963-1981)
The Jack Paar Program (1962)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1965)
El Cid (1961) El Cid Rodrigo de Vivar
Alcoa Premiere (1961)  Paul Malone (1 episode, 1961)
The Mike Douglas Show (1961)  Himself (6 episodes, 1964-1978)
Ben-Hur (1959) Judah Ben-Hur
The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959) John Sands
Kraft Mystery Theater (1959)  Paul Malone (1 episode, 1963)
The Revlon Revue (1959)  Himself (1 episode, 1960)
The Buccaneer (1958) Gen. Andrew Jackson
The Big Country (1958) Steve Leech
Screen Snapshots: Salute to Hollywood (1958) Himself
Touch of Evil (1958) Mike Vargas
Shirley Temple's Storybook (1958)  The Beast (1 episode, 1958)
The Ten Commandments (1956) Moses
Three Violent People (1956) Capt. Colt Saunders
Playhouse 90 (1956)  Charles Gray / ... (2 episodes, 1956-1958)
The Steve Allen Plymouth Show (1956)  Himself - Guest / ... (3 episodes, 1956-1960)
Lucy Gallant (1955) Casey Cole
The Private War of Major Benson (1955) Maj. Bernard R. 'Barney' Benson
The Far Horizons (1955) Lt. William Clark
The $64,000 Question (1955)  Substitute Host (unknown episodes)
Secret of the Incas (1954) Harry Steele
The Naked Jungle (1954) Christopher Leiningen
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954)  Himself (1 episode, 1986)
Climax! (1954)  Chipman / ... (2 episodes, 1955-1957)
The George Gobel Show (1954)  Himself / ... (1 episode, 1956)
Bad for Each Other (1953) Dr. Tom Owen
Arrowhead (1953) Ed Bannon
The President's Lady (1953) President Andrew Jackson
Pony Express (1953) Buffalo Bill Cody
General Electric Theater (1953)  Tim (1 episode, 1955)
Person to Person (1953)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1955)
Medallion Theatre (1953) (1 episode, 1953)
The Irv Kupcinet Show (1953)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
Three Lives (1953) Commentator
Ruby Gentry (1952) Boake Tackman
The Savage (1952) James 'Jim' Aherne Jr. / War Bonnet
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Brad Braden
Today (1952)  Himself (2 episodes, 1956-1973)
This Is Your Life (1952)  Himself (1 episode, 1957)
Omnibus (1952) (1 episode, 1955)
The Jackie Gleason Show (1952)  Guest (1 episode, 1956)
The Linkletter Show (1952)  Himself (1 episode, 1966)
Curtain Call (1952) (1 episode, 1952)
Schlitz Playhouse (1951) (2 episodes, 1951-1957)
Sheilah Graham in Hollywood (1951)  Himself (1 episode, 1955)
Julius Caesar (1950) Antony
Dark City (1950) Danny Haley
The Colgate Comedy Hour (1950)  Himself - Host / ... (6 episodes, 1955)
What's My Line? (1950)  Himself - Mystery Guest (1 episode, 1956)
Your Show of Shows (1950)  Himself - Guest Performer (3 episodes, 1951-1954)
Lux Video Theatre (1950) (1 episode, 1951)
Robert Montgomery Presents (1950)  Cashel Bryon / ... (3 episodes, 1952-1955)
Danger (1950) (1 episode, 1954)
Introducing Charlton Heston (1950) Himself
Suspense (1949) (2 episodes, 1949-1951)
The Clock (1949) (1 episode, 1950)
The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)  Himself / ... (10 episodes, 1953-1968)
Studio One in Hollywood (1948)  Edward Rochester / ... (13 episodes, 1949-1952)
The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (1948) (2 episodes, 1950-1953)
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall (1948)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1959-1963)
Peer Gynt (1941) Peer Gynt

Writer ( 1 credit )

Antony and Cleopatra (1972) (adapted for the screen by)

Director ( 2 credits )

Mother Lode (1982)
Antony and Cleopatra (1972)