Sunday, April 06, 2008

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

The Midwest--Charlton Heston was a giant on the cultural landscape, and will continue to be for decades-to-come. While I strenuously disagree with most of the political opinions he held, he was one of the great American movie actors. He was also a supporter of the Civil Rights movement. He was complicated. Like Jeff Daniels, Orson Welles, George Armstrong Custer, Mark Twain, Paul Schrader, Malcolm X, Terry Gilliam, Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs, Booth Tarkington, Ambrose Bierce, Ronald Reagan, and so many others, he was a Midwestern boy, and he carried this region with him wherever he went in life (for better or worse). Heston was a Michigan boy, a state that I love with reservation.

My own personal favorite performances by him were in Sam Peckinpah's flawed, but brilliant Civil War western, "Major Dundee" (1965), and Cecil B. Demille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952). And even though his makeup was cheesy, he was wonderful in Orson Welles's final hollywood film, "Touch of Evil" (1958). Oh sure, "The Omega Man" (1971 ), "Soylent Green" (1973), and "Planet of the Apes" (1969), are a hoot, but he was a solid screen actor and by-all-accounts, great company. He was a professional in every sense, and that's OK for a working man. He entered his home justified. Charlton Heston, dead at 84. He will be missed. Rest in peace.