When I saw that Charlton Heston’s former publicist, Michael Levine, had started a petition to let “the Citizen Stamp Advisory Commission [know] that Heston deserves to be placed on a postage stamp,” I emailed Big Hollywood’s Editor John Nolte and jumped at the chance to write this post.
I did so because to honest students of Hollywood’s history, the very name Charlton Heston conjures up visions of greatness. He filled every room he entered, and spoke with a voice that commanded audience after audience, generation after generation.
Although he’s remembered for staring roles in “The Ten Commandments” (1956), “Ben-Hur” (1959), and the “Planet of the Apes” (1968), those are just the tip of the iceberg. During his lifetime he “earned two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, three Emmy Award nominations, …the Kennedy Center Honors: Lifetime Achievement Award.” He “was a six-time president of the Screen Actors Guild, president of the American Film Institute,” and he “received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush [in 2003].”
A renaissance man if ever there was one, Heston is also famous for marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, for serving as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) from 1998 to 2003, and for being an unapologetic warrior for decency and tradition in America’s “cultural war.”
And let’s not forgot that he was also a veteran of World War II. That’s right: he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk as well.
Unlike many of today’s Hollywood elite, Heston loved this country so much that he couldn’t remain quiet when he saw liberals and radicals (often one and the same) trying to rip it apart. Even when it hurt his career, he spoke and by speaking sought to stir in others “the courage to be free.”
It didn’t take his cultural opponents long to realize that Heston could not be shamed into silence. Even when they fell to their usual (childish) tactic of name-calling, Heston wore as a badge of honor the fact that Leftists called him a “ridiculous, duped, brain-injured, senile, crazy old man.” Instead of backing down, he stood before Harvard’s Law School Forum in 1999 and, as an unapologetic throwback to the Greatest Generation, said: “As long as you validate [political correctness]…and abide it…you are…by your grandfathers’ standards – cowards.”
Of course, I can’t go without mentioning those most memorable of words spoken by Heston at the NRA’s convention in 2000. Al Gore, an infamous anti-gunner, was running for president and Heston decided it was time to stir in gun-owners the courage to be free once more: “For the next six months…Al Gore is going to smear you as the enemy. He will slander you as gun-toting, knuckle-dragging, bloodthirsty maniacs who stand in the way of a safer America… [So] I want to say [these] fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed, and especially for you, Mr. Gore: ‘From my cold, dead hands!'” (I can remember watching the video of that speech and, upon hearing those words for the first time, thinking only Ronald Reagan surpassed Heston as the greatest communicator to grace America’s cultural scene in the last half of the 20th Century.)
Heston loved this country and the principles upon which it was founded more than he loved his own life. You would think the least we could do in return is to honor him for being a great American.
To sign the petition to see Charlton Heston featured on a U.S. postage stamp, click here.