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Charlton Heston Profile

Stardates: Born October 4, 1924, in Evanston, Illinois; died 2008.
Star Sign: Libra
Star Qualities: Imposing physique, commanding voice and chiseled profile, all perfect for epic heroes.
Star Definition: "So intelligent, so knowledgeable, so professional, so exciting - exploring the full content of a scene and context of the intent." - Janet Leigh
Galaxy of Characters: Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur (1959), Major Amos Charles Dundee in Major Dundee (1965), General Charles "Chinese" Gordon in Khartoum (1966), Detective Robert Thorn in Soylent Green (1973).

Call him "Chuck." Not "Charlton" or "Mr. Heston." It's something he tells you right at the start, to set the record straight and to dispense with any awkwardness. He also lets you know, just in case you might be headed in that direction, definitely not to call him "Charlie." Only his wife is allowed to do that. It's information our star of the day (August 5th) dispenses in a pleasant, affable manner, although there is the hint that an infraction of the rules could inspire a clap of thunder, a burning bush or a major earth tremor. But why not. He is, after all, a guy who's been known to either cause or survive any number of lightning bolts, earthquakes and other calamities, at least on screen. So why risk it? "Chuck" he is, from that moment forward.

For the record, he was actually born "Charles Carter"; "Charlton" was his mother's maiden name, and "Heston" is the surname of his stepfather, which Chuck took as his own when he was still very young. One of his most embarrassing moments, he recalls, was when he was a kid and, during a roll-call at school, a new teacher kept asking if "Charlotte" Heston was present. Too stunned and shy to say anything, young Chuck just kept turning redder by the moment, sliding further and further down in his seat, trying to disappear. Actually, that shyness he had as a kid is still very much a part of him, although he's learned to overcome it as much as possible. (Moses shy? Incongruous but true.) Meeting Chuck Heston in person also makes you realize immediately that he is, for real, the kind of guy you hoped he would be: a straight-shooter, a thinking man, sturdy, dependable, professional. But it comes as a surprise that self-effacement is also part of the package.

With his sharp profile, impressive physique, booming voice and air of nobility Charlton Heston embodies heroism. In a career spanning more than 60 films, many of them superspectacles, Heston played larger-than-life characters ranging from Moses to Michelangelo. He achieved his greatest triumph in the title role of Ben-Hur (1959), which won him an Academy Award® for Best Actor. Born in Evanston, Ill., in 1923, Heston began his Hollywood career playing down-to-earth heroes in such movies as The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Touch of Evil (1958) and Skyjacked (1972). Throughout his career, he has continued to play straightforward leads in such screen adventures as The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959), Earthquake (1974) and The Hawaiians (1970). But Heston will always be best remembered for his epic roles, including John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and General Gordon in Khartoum (1966).

He often kids that stalwart hero image he's acquired since playing such giants of history as Moses, El Cid, Andrew Jackson, Buffalo Bill Cody, et al. A fascinating guy, Chuck, and we invite you to learn more about him on 8/5th when we air ten of his movies including his Oscar®-winning Ben-Hur (1959), the sci-fi classic Soylent Green (1973).

by Robert Osborne

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