Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon – Marc Eliot (Dey St.)
The call came in from the NRA press office, with the question, would I host a local rally, introduce Wayne LaPierre and Mr. Heston would be available to record and interview. Wait…what? Mr. Heston? As in Moses…Ben Hur! The NRA road show was coming through town to rally Second Amendment supporters to get out and vote for George W. Bush.
The local hall was jammed with 3000 proud gun owners, enthusiastically cheering on the NRA team. After firing up the crowd and starting the festivities, I was escorted back to a dusty storage room, converted for the occasion into a “green room” where Heston waited for his introduction. I was going to interview Moses! As I stepped into the room I was a bit startled by what I encountered. Here was a man who was a true Hollywood legend; a man who had played larger than life historical figures and yet here was an almost fragile, slightly frail version of Heston.
He stood, in stocking feet, and beamed a thousand watt smile and grasped my hand with a firm grip and with the voice of Moses welcomed me like an old friend. He explained how his feet bothered him, hence the lack of shoes and we began the interview. Later when he took the stage, raised the rifle above his head and uttered his trademark phrase “from my cold dead hand” to shouts from the throng.
That was my interaction with a man author Marc Eliot writes about and dubs Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon. In the book Eliot explores not only the man, but Hollywood itself in a different era; an era of real stars, who earned their status, not expected it. Heston was a star with real star power, that very few can generate today.
Eliot describes Heston’s transition to the conservative, NRA stalwart that he would become in his later years. He also reminds us of the glaring deferences between stars from Heston’s era and those of this generation, who stooped to insult Heston after he publically revealed his battle with dementia, because they disagreed with his stance on guns in a era of Columbine. It really boils down to the difference between being classy and a low life, loser, scumbag like Michael Moore.
Like he did with, Jimmy Stewart, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood, Eliot does a masterful job of cover the real breadth of Heston’s life and career.