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Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actor. (b. Oct. 4, 1924, St. Helen, Mich., as Charles Carter.) "Charlton Heston is an axiom. By himself alone he constitutes a tragedy, and his presence in any film whatsoever suffices to create beauty." Few at the time agreed with this off-the-wall 1960 tribute to the imposing leading man by-who else-a French critic, and today's "hip" filmgoers are likely to be convulsed by it. But they're wrong too. Heston was and is an actor of absolutely undeniable presence, and was never more so than during his late-1950s/early-1960s heyday, when Hollywood needed all the presence it could get to compete with television.
Heston's earliest screen performances were seen in independently made productions ofJulius Caesar andPeer Gynt in the 1940s. But neither his Hollywood debut in 1950'sDark City nor his subsequent leading-man assignments (in the likes ofLucy Gallant andThe Greatest Show on Earth could foretell the impact he would make as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's spectacularThe Ten Commandments (1956), which started him on a long string of historical parts, including the title role in William Wyler's 1959Ben-Hur for which he won a Best Actor Oscar.
Heston went on to play the title role in Anthony Mann's excellent wide-screen epicEl Cid (1961), and portrayed Michelangelo inThe Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). He also worked in a number of Westerns, including Peckinpah'sMajor Dundee (1965) andWill Penny (1968, one of Heston's personal favorites). In 1968 he played an astronaut trapped on a simianrun Earth inPlanet of the Apes reprising the role in its first sequel,Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). The brief sci-fi vogue of those years also saw him inThe Last Man on Earth remake,The Omega Man (1971), and the eco-cannibal thrillerSoylent Green (1973).
Heston was a near-constant presence in 1970s disaster films, including the notoriousEarthquake (1974). While he turned up less and less on the big screen in the 1980s, he could be seen more and moreironically enough-on TV, both as a spokesperson for the many conservative issues he espouses and in many made-forcable period pieces, including remakes ofA Man for All Seasons (1988, which he also directed) andTreasure Island (1990). In 1991 he went rather against type, portraying distinctly un-rugged detective Sherlock Holmes in the made-for-cableThe Crucifer of Blood He was directed in this, and several other recent productions, by his son Fraser. He published a diary, "The Actor's Life," in 1978.