Picture - Charlton Heston and Titanic at Screen Actors Guild

* HESTON DEAD AT 83 Oscar-winning actor CHARLTON HESTON has died. He was 83. Heston passed away on Saturday (05Apr08) night at his home in Beverly Hills, California, after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois on 4 October 1924, he was the son of mill operator Russell Whitford Carter and his wife Lilla Charlton. He would later change his Christian name to Charlton and take on his new step-dad Chester Heston's surname. Heston studied acting at school and went on to win a drama scholarship to the local Northwestern University, before enrolling in the U.S. Air Force in 1944. That same year, he married fellow Northwestern student Lydia Marie Clarke. After three years in the force and rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant, Heston returned home, where he continued to pursue his passion for acting with a stint in theatre. Heston landed his big-screen break in 1952's The Greatest Show on Earth, and in 1956 appeared as Moses in The Ten Commandments. His role in the religious epic won him much critical acclaim, and he went on to star in movie classics El Cid, Planet of the Apes and Ben-Hur, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1960. Ben-Hur was awarded a total of 11 Oscars, including Best Picture - a feat only equalled by 1997's Titanic and 2003's The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Heston was also well-known for his work behind the scenes, serving as the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965-1971, and as chairman of the American Film Institute. Away from Hollywood, Heston became a prolific Civil Rights activist in the 1950s and 60s, and later went on to become the president of the National Rifle Association in the 1990s. In 1993, Heston was awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S. He is survived by his wife Lydia, their son Fraser Clarke Heston and their adopted daughter, Holly Ann Heston. (MT/WNWCCB&WNWA&WNWC) Los Angeles, California - 05.04.08


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