April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston (1923-2008)

No sooner do I finish writing about the anniversary of my favourite science-fiction movie, than to learn that the star of another favourite has passed away.

Charlton Heston starred in many great epics, SF and otherwise - including Bible epics such as The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur (for which he won the Best Actor Oscar for 1959), historical drama such as Khartoum, and lesser SF classics such as Soylent Green and The Omega Man (one of three film adaptations of Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend). In recent years my favourite film in which he appeared was Kenneth Branagh's incredible 1996 adaptation of Hamlet, in which Heston had a cameo as one of the players in the acting troupe.

But for me, the essential Charlton Heston role was as the misanthropic astronaut Taylor in 1968's Planet of the Apes.

In later years, Heston was probably better known for his conservative political activity, such as the presidency of the National Rifle Association, than his acting. Nonetheless, Hollywood has lost yet another of its legends. Rest in peace, Mr. Heston.