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Ben-Hur star Charlton Heston dies

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Charlton Heston, who won a best actor Oscar for his starring role in the epic Ben-Hur, has died aged 84, a spokesman for his family has said.

Heston died on Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills. His wife Lydia, whom he married in 1944, was at his side.

Heston also portrayed Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the 1950s and 1960s.

He stepped down as president of US gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, in 2003, citing ill-health.

The previous year, he had revealed he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.

Defining roles

Heston was born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois.


start_quote_rb.gif No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country end_quote_rb.gif

Heston family statement


Obituary: Charlton Heston

In pictures: Life of epic star

Your tributes

He studied acting before serving for three years in the US Air Force. But back in civilian life, Heston went through hard times, while waiting for his first break.

In 1952, after working on Broadway, Heston starred as the ringmaster in the movie The Greatest Show on Earth.

Four years later, he appeared as Moses in The Ten Commandments, one of the roles which would define his career.

After the success of the science fiction film Planet of the Apes in the late 1960s, Heston turned his attention to working in the theatre.

'Larger than life'

Although later identified with traditionally conservative causes, Charlton Heston had been a vocal supporter of Martin Luther King and the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

He also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild and was chairman of the American Film Institute.

In a statement, his family said: "To his loving friends, colleagues and fans, we appreciate your heartfelt prayers and support.

"Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life.

"No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, and to his country.

"In his own words, 'I have lived such a wonderful life. I've lived enough for two people'."

His former publicist Michael Levine, who worked with Heston for 20 years, told Associated Press the actor's passing represented the end of an iconic era for cinema.

"If Hollywood had a Mount Rushmore, Heston's face would be on it. He was a heroic figure that I don't think exists to the same degree in Hollywood today."

Heston's family said a private memorial service would be held.


I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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