Oscar-winner Charlton Heston dies at 84

April 7, 2008 at 1:27 AM
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 6 (UPI) -- Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for playing the title role in "Ben Hur" and was probably best known as Moses, died Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., at 84.

Heston's family released a statement announcing the death, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 2002, Heston released a videotape announcing that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"The world is a tough place," he said. "You're never going to get out of it alive."

While Heston's most famous roles were in Biblical epics like "The Ten Commandments" and "Ben Hur," he showed an enormous range. He played a Mexican police officer in "Touch of Evil" with Orson Welles, Marc Antony in "Julius Caesar" and sci-fi heroes in "Soylent Green" and "Planet of the Apes."

"I don't seem to fit really into the 20th Century," Heston said in 1965. "Pretty soon, though, I've got to get a part where I wear pants with pleats and pockets."

In his later years, Heston was a well-known advocate of gun rights, parodying his role as Moses with a rifle instead of a rod for the National Rifle Association and serving as the organization's president.

The American Film Institute established the Charlton Heston Award in 2003, and made him its first recipient. The award is given to "acknowledge individuals who have made distinguished contributions to both the film and television communities and to the American Film Institute."

In 1997, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Heston with its Jean Hersholt Humaniatrian Award.

Heston served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 to 1971.

He is survived by his wife, Lydia. They married in 1944.

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