Thou Shalt Not. . .Charlton Heston Dead at 84

-

charlton heston moses twn.jpg
I grew up mostly attending Department of Defense schools around the world and the U.S. — and The Ten Commandments seemed like it aired on our TV’s at least once a month — but certainly at Easter and Christmas. I loved watching it — have to admit.
Charlton Heston, a scion of Hollywood’s small but strident right wing, has passed away at 84.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I ran into Charlton Heston now and then but have nothing significant to report — except one really interesting phone encounter.


When Richard Nixon died, I was working with the Richard Nixon Library in organizing a sister organization, the Nixon Center.
There were so many phone calls into the library on the news of the former President’s death, that no one there could do much dependable phone logistics work. All the lines were essentially down.
Library Foundation Director John Taylor asked me to help contact all of the VIP contacts of Nixon and the Library’s to help figure out who should get a limo pass and seat at the Yorba Linda funeral, and I worked with former Senator Howard Baker to figure out the most important names — and then proceeded to call 500 people from my West Hollywood apartment.
One of them was Charlton Heston who lived in Beverly Hills.
When I asked Mr. Heston if he would like to attend President Nixon’s funeral, his response was: “In what capacity?”
I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I repeated the question of whether he’d like to attend and whether he would need a limo/town car pass — and told him that I’d make arrangements for him in the family section.
He said, “I thank you for all that — but will I have a role?”
I said I couldn’t really arrange that. After all, we already had a program that featured Billy Graham, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Henry Kissinger, California Governor Pete Wilson, and others.
And then he said, “No, I can’t attend. Thank you for the offer.”
But on the phone, Heston was giving me the Ben Hur/Moses voice the whole time. Richard Nixon’s funeral was one of the most interesting political gatherings I have ever been a part of — and now that I think of it, having Heston there in semi-Moses mode is about the only thing that might have made it more dramatic than it already was.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

17 comments on “Thou Shalt Not. . .Charlton Heston Dead at 84

  1. Natalie says:

    I grew up lusting after Charlton Heston, as did my mom! She taught me to adore Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, El Cid,and the Agony and the Ecstacy. My earliest teen age girl fantasies were of Charlton panting in the shadows of the Admiral’s state room on board the galley ship in nothing but his ragged loin clothe!! And some of his scenes in The Ten Commandments showed him to be quite the stud, too! I layed my hands on his hand print at the theatre display, and bought three post cards of it when I was in LA. I loved every movie he made as I became an adult – never missed a one – and have read every line he ever wrote, some more than once! I was SO proud when he was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors – almost like he was my own dad!! Sad, huh! 🙁 However, when he became an NRA activist, I had to lay down my life long admiration and love for this talented actor. 🙁 As a school teacher in an urban setting, I face the possibility of gun violence every day I go to work. This would not be the case in a country where guns were not easily available – even to our young people, and particularly their nutcase parents!! I mourn his death, but not his stand on this issue.

    Reply

  2. Natalie says:

    I grew up lusting after Charlton Heston, as did my mom! She taught me to adore Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, El Cid,and the Agony and the Ecstacy. My earliest teen age girl fantasies were of Charlton panting in the shadows of the Admiral’s state room on board the galley ship in nothing but his ragged loin clothe!! And some of his scenes in The Ten Commandments showed him to be quite the stud, too! I layed my hands on his hand print at the theatre display, and bought three post cards of it when I was in LA. I loved every movie he made as I became an adult – never missed a one – and have read every line he ever wrote, some more than once! I was SO proud when he was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors – almost like he was my own dad!! Sad, huh! 🙁 However, when he became an NRA activist, I had to lay down my life long admiration and love for this talented actor. 🙁 As a school teacher in an urban setting, I face the possibility of gun violence every day I go to work. This would not be the case in a country where guns were not easily available – even to our young people, and particularly their nutcase parents!! I mourn his death, but not his stand on this issue. pxs7du

    Reply

  3. Natalie says:

    I grew up lusting after Charlton Heston, as did my mom! She taught me to adore Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, El Cid,and the Agony and the Ecstacy. My earliest teen age girl fantasies were of Charlton panting in the shadows of the Admiral’s state room on board the galley ship in nothing but his ragged loin clothe!! And some of his scenes in The Ten Commandments showed him to be quite the stud, too! I layed my hands on his hand print at the theatre display, and bought three post cards of it when I was in LA. I loved every movie he made as I became an adult – never missed a one – and have read every line he ever wrote, some more than once! I was SO proud when he was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors – almost like he was my own dad!! Sad, huh! 🙁 However, when he became an NRA activist, I had to lay down my life long admiration and love for this talented actor. 🙁 As a school teacher in an urban setting, I face the possibility of gun violence every day I go to work. This would not be the case in a country where guns were not easily available – even to our young people, and particularly their nutcase parents!! I mourn his death, but not his stand on this issue. pxs7du

    Reply

  4. David says:

    I suspect that numbers of hunters will begin to drop at an accelerating pace. Hunting is an outdoor sport that requires great patience, and it is something that normally requires an adult figure to pass it on (at least as best I can tell). Actual hunting will be replaced with video game hunting. That would be ok, I guess, but damned, that fresh air and those hours in the woods were great, and deer herds have to be culled by hunters because the natural predators are pretty much gone.
    I used to love to hunt, although I finally came to dislike the sound of the gun shattering the incredibly beautiful silence of a winter morning in the Ocala Forest, and even moreso the behavior of way too many hunters loose with 30.06s and asshole attitudes, something I did not experience in my youth in the 50s but began to encounter ever more frequently starting in the early 70s.
    Squirrel as my mother prepared it is still the top game dish, even if squirrels are just tree rats. Second is the wild hog I used to cook over a hole in the ground in which we’d built an oak fire and allowed it to burn down to coals. Whenever the fat would catch fire, we’d douse it with beer, which made the meat really good. Wild hogs in Florida, by the way, are pretty much just hogs with badass back hair and an inclination to perform an appendectomy on you, whether you need it or not. And any hog that wanders onto you land is your hog, regardless.
    I’ve also had still hunt venison that was damned good. It was prepared by a woman who just plain knew what she was doing.
    Oh, yeah, and add wild turkey smoked by Leesburg, Florida’s master smoker. Merd but that was good.

    Reply

  5. Katie says:

    There have been several similar articles in western states papers about the numbers of hunters and fisherman dwindling. Most of them cite figures from various Fish and Game departments based on license sales. It’s seems to be becoming a real concern for some areas that rely heavily on business from sports hunters/fisherman.

    Reply

  6. Tintin says:

    Pissed–
    Not a problem. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not “against” hunting per
    se and have hunted, once or twice, myself. My father tried to teach
    me, but I never took to it. Probably because he wasn’t really a
    hunter himself–just thought it was something a father “should”
    teach a son.

    Reply

  7. Nikolas Gvosdev says:

    GV–
    The movie “The Ten Commandments” is based on the story of
    Passover but really it is meant to be the story of America and
    how it views itself during the 1950s. The Pharaoh is an atheist
    with a Russian accent who runs a command economy; the
    Israelites are being promised freedom under a rule of law (not
    being emphasized here is the notion of becoming a nation of
    priests with the law being a code of holiness)–essentially the
    notion that Moses anticipates the Constitution. And what he
    started, implied at the concluding scene, is being brought to
    fulfillment today.
    And, in contrast to what the Bible says, that there was a clear
    distinction in appearance and language between Hebrews and
    Egyptians (“a people of strange language” as the Psalmist
    writes)–they are all basically interchangeable. Of course, there
    is a proto-civil rights message in that the “Nubians” get to leave
    Egypt with the Hebrews–but note that they can come into
    Aaron’s house but not to sit at the table with everyone else.
    Also keep in mind that the movie “has something” for each of
    the major Abrahamic faiths. Moses “anticipates” the opening of
    the Gospel of John after meeting God; Ramses recites the first
    half of the Shahada after being defeated at the Red Sea.
    So yes the overall story is that of Passover but reworked and
    reimagined according to the dictates of the American civil
    religion.

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Tintin…….
    Thanks for that. Obviously, it comes as a suprise to me.
    A pity I am not younger, for if this decline continues, the back country might once again, in a coupla decades, entertain something other than an army of road sign murderers and armed campfire drunks.
    Oh, but how I miss a good elk steak.

    Reply

  9. Tintin says:

    And this from the other end of the country as reported by Seven
    Days: Vermont’s Independent Voice, late last year:
    “Gun Shy
    Why is Vermont’s hunter population dwindling?
    by Ken Picard (11/07/07).
    Vermont’s young bucks gathered Sunday at the Neshobe
    Sportsman Club in Brandon for a barbecue celebrating the
    annual Youth Deer Hunting Weekend. Scores of young hunters
    toting rifles and gear bags emerged from parent-driven SUVs
    and pickups bearing bumper stickers like “Gut deer?” and
    “Hooked on quack.”
    Each fall, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department opens rifle
    season one weekend early for deer hunters 16 and under. The
    goal is to give the young guns some time in the woods — and,
    presumably, away from their computers and video games —
    where they can stalk their prey without the pressure of
    competing against older, more seasoned sportsmen.
    This year, an estimated 8000 youth participated in the hunt; at
    gun shops and mom-and-pop stores throughout Vermont, the
    kids could be seen sporting their hunter-orange and camo-
    green garb. It beats gray and white. To put it bluntly, Vermont’s
    sportsmen are getting older, and due to a variety of societal
    factors, fewer young people are taking up the sport.
    Youth Deer Hunting Weekend is just one way the state is trying
    to reverse the slow but steady decline in so-called
    “consumptive” wildlife sports — that is, hunting, angling and
    trapping. This national trend, first noticed about two decades
    ago, has been confirmed by surveys done every five years by the
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The most recent results, just
    released this summer, found that the number of hunters 16 and
    older dropped by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 — from 14
    million to about 12.5 million. The decline was most dramatic in
    New England, the Rockies and Pacific states, where the total
    number of hunters was down by about 400,000 people.
    Etc…

    Reply

  10. Tintin says:

    10/15/2006 5:56:00 AM
    Jason Middleton, of Hermiston, poses with the four-point buck
    he shot recently near Hermiston. Staff photo by Tammy
    Malgesini.
    Hunting numbers dwindle
    Oregonians choosing other recreational activities
    By Tammy Malgesini
    The East Oregonian
    With rifle deer season recently ending and elk season less than
    two weeks away, Oregon is finding dwindling numbers of those
    applying for hunting tags.
    Deer tag applications have been within 2,000 the past three
    years, however this year, they’re the lowest since 1998.
    Applications for elk drawings in 2006 are the lowest since 1997.
    “The baby boom generation is aging and they hunt in greater
    numbers than the following age groups,” said Harry Upton, an
    economist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
    He said the average age of hunters over the past 10 years has
    increased from 37 to 40.
    Upton said that may not sound like much, but statistics show
    fewer young people are hunting.
    Etc…

    Reply

  11. David says:

    I too was a member of the NRA as a young adult, precisely because I used to hunt, and because hunter organizations are the only reason that deer did not become extinct in Florida. But when the NRA began its journey to the nutcase fringe, I ended my membership (in the early 70s, if I remember correctly).
    The second amendment exists to ensure that a well-organized militia can stand ready to protect the citizenry. It is a corollary to the right of the citizens to choose their government, and their government officials. It is not worded as an individual right, although that connotation has been embraced by the majority of Americans, so it stands as a legitimate interpretation. But it is worded as a collective right directly linked to public responsibility. I fail to see how it can be stretched to cover the notion, for instance, that private citizens have an individual right to keep guns in a city whose citizenry collectively see guns as a threat, especially handguns, or worse, that individuals have a right to take guns anywhere they please. Does the NRA imagine including the right for me to carry a 9 mm aboard a commercial airliner?

    Reply

  12. BillORightly says:

    When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.
    You can buy an Uzi in the South Central L.A. black market for about $500.
    Beyond that, many people in rural areas live far from immediate police support, so would need their own protection in the event of a crime.
    And the Second Amendment is there to ensure that the government should fear the people, and not vice versa.
    Heston did a lot for civil rights.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Those who hunt and pass this custom on
    to their young are dying out and their numbers are dwindling”
    You base this assertion on some sort of personal effort you’ve made in research, or just on the fact you have never witnessed opening day of elk season in North Idaho?
    Personally, I think you made that “fact” up out of thin air. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.

    Reply

  14. Tintin says:

    To be honest, there are no good reasons to own guns in this day
    and age…except to protect oneself against other people with guns.
    It’s a circular argument. Those who hunt and pass this custom on
    to their young are dying out and their numbers are dwindling. The
    second amendment needs to be respected because it is part of the
    Constitution, but like other parts of the document, it should be
    amended out of it or dramatically revised to avoid ridiculous
    arguments, such as what is “well-regulated militia”?

    Reply

  15. gv says:

    I never understood how the story of the Jews being freed from bondage by Moses became a regular Easter story on television. This is the story of Passover, not Easter. It is the story of Moses, not Christ. It is a Jewish story and yet Christians all across America watch it at Easter and claim it as their own. I just never got it. If anything, it shows how the law of God is Jewish law.
    In any event, Charlton Heston will always be Moses to me and not the NRA fanatic he became.

    Reply

  16. Helen says:

    Good actor. Bad politics. The same characteristics that make an actor a good and convincing leader/tough guy can also in private life prevent thoughts that induce empathy. As a gun owner, I would never join NRA, partly because of Heston’s overstatements, partly because the organization has been usurped by fanatics who seem to value the second amendment but not many of the others.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffCitizen says:

    As a lifetime gun owner, who grew up around hunting and guns, I was appalled when Heston did his “pry out of my cold deads hands” speech. It was counterproductive, and fed right into the “gun nut” stereotyping. That, and the NRA’s stance on armor piercing ammunition caused me to cease my membership. There is absolutely no reason for me to possess ammunition that will pierce a policeman’s vest. If the day ever arises that I need to protect myself, or go on the offensive against, my own government, than I am going to need a whole hell of a lot more than an M-16 and a box of Teflon coated ammo.
    Heston mighta been a decent thespian, but he did little to advance the image of the typical American gun owner or hunter.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *