Charlton Heston dies at 84

I was sad when I heard that Charlton Heston died on Saturday, April 5th. Not so much with his death, although 84 is not that old this day and age, but at having lived out his last years suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Heston was the president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003 and through the time of his tenure the NRA’s membership rose from 3.5 to 4 million members. He was a charismatic leader.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man in 2000 at the BC Wildlife Federation convention in Prince George, where he was the keynote speaker that year.

We were able to spend some private time with him before he spoke and I was truly impressed by the man. There was absolutely nothing phony about him, he was generous with his time and he left the distinct impression that here was a real gentleman.

Although many of the newspapers erroneously reported that he came to deliver a speech about gun rights, that was not the case. He spoke about freedom and how we should not let it be taken away. His speech was inspirational and the room was packed.

There is no question that Heston left his mark in many different arenas. I am just happy that I did have the chance to meet him and spend some time in his company.

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One Response to “Charlton Heston dies at 84”

  1. Mark McIntire Says:

    1. Mark McIntire Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    April 10th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    – Remembering Charlton Heston: The Man In The Arena
    by Mark McIntire

    April 9, 2008 11:42 AM

    Charlton Heston kept his promises. He was good to his friends. He believed in a merciful God, and he loved his country. As though that was not enough to separate him from today’s Hollywood elite, he was married, too, and lived with the same woman for over 60 years.

    Chuck well may be the last iconic gentleman of his era about whom all of the preceding statements were true.

    Many will recall Chuck’s epic stage, movie and TV triumphs, and think he actually was Moses or Ben Hur or Will Penny or Mark Antony. That would amuse as much as bemuse him. “My dad pretends to be other people for a living,” his only son, Fraser Heston, would tell his classmates.

    Chuck was an actor’s actor whose only complaint was: “I never got it right. I always thought I could have done that role better.”
    Some will recall meeting Chuck at a premiere, posh party, political convention, or just on the street. They’d be struck to find he had the same commanding presence and honest grit, and the same gentlemanly manners, on screen and off.
    He was a gentleman’s gentleman. “Daddy lives by his principles, not by the costumes he wears in movies,” his only daughter, Holly, would tell all who asked what he was really like as a person.

    Once a liberal Democrat who campaigned with Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, Chuck later became identified with the conservatism of his friend Ronald Reagan. “I didn’t change . . . my party did,” he’d explain to those who asked about his transformation.

    Of all the things that will be written and said of Chuck now that he is dead, a most important key to his character will be overlooked. Charlton Heston derived his moral and political values from ethical principles that did not change over the course of his spectacular life. His detractors argued this only proves he was a fool. But when we look at what his detractors have accomplished in their lives by comparison, we are left with the suspicion that Chuck was no fool. He was a centered man, comfortable in his own skin.

    At their 50th wedding anniversary dinner, some upstart (that would be me) had the impertinence to ask his beloved wife, Lydia: “How did you manage to stay married to that man for so many years?” In her typical serenity and graciousness, she replied: “Through Chuck, I learned to keep a center of my being to myself . . . else there would be no one there for him to love.”

    The Holy Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare were never far from Chuck’s fingertips in his study. It’s hard to think of my friend Chuck now without remembering these lines from “Romeo and Juliet,” Act 3, Scene 2:
    “And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he shall make the face of heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”

    Mark McIntire, a Santa Barbara resident, knew
    Charlton Heston for 27 years.
    http://markmcintire.com

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