Personal/Private

Goodbye, Chuck

I once had a chance to meet Charlton Heston, who died this weekend at age 84.

Mr. Heston was a guest on "The View," where I worked back in 2000 - 2001, and I was seriously excited to meet him because he starred in some of my favorite films: "The Greatest Show on Earth," "The Omega Man," "Airport 75," and of course "Planet of the Apes." So I wanted to get his autograph for my husband, who loved his movies even more.

Part of our enjoyment of Charlton Heston's movies was his over-the-top acting style. We simultaneously made fun of his performances while still enjoying the rides he took us on. I want to emphasize the latter part of that — we thoroughly enjoyed his movies. I don't know how or when he chose to go for movies like Omega Man or Soylent Green, but he had amazing taste for films that transcend their B-movie status. Or maybe he made them transcendent. I leave it to real critics to explain him. I just enjoyed the hell out of him.

Back to the autograph. I didn't normally have anything to do with celebrity interviews, but I made sure to be up on the dressing-room floor before show time, and I hung around waiting for him to have a free moment. While I was hanging around, somebody asked me to escort him to the restroom. I walked ahead of him and tried to be nonchalant. I remember thinking, "I'm taking Charlton Heston to the men's room! I'm taking Charlton Heston to the men's room!"

He had a lot of trouble getting around, which surprised me. He shuffled slowly and I realized for the first time just how old he was. I was very polite, calling him "sir" and "Mr. Heston," which would be my normal instinct anyway, but triply so for the guy who played Moses and Judah Ben-Hur.

I waited until after the show to ask him for an autograph. He was on the show to promote the DVD of one of his movies — it might have been Planet of the Apes. I proffered a piece of paper and asked him to sign it. He said I should buy one of the DVDs and have him sign that. I explained that I would love to buy the DVD but I didn't have a DVD player. He said I should buy a DVD player and his DVD. I thought, "Wow, that's a hard sell. No wonder this guy has been so successful." But I prevailed. He signed the piece of paper. Here it is:

damn_dirty_autograph.jpg

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Does this mean we can take all his guns now?

Sent by Will G | 8:56 PM | 4-6-2008

Thanks for that, Tricia. Charlton Heston movies on afternoon TV were a key part of my latchkey kid existence. My friends and I were particularly fascinated by Soylent Green. I don't think he and I would have gotten along terribly well in real life, but I tip my hat to a man with a great on-screen persona.

Sent by Sarah Goodyear | 1:15 PM | 4-7-2008

Dear Will G,

I can always count on someone to dance on the grave of someone who had the indecency to disagree with them on one issue. In this case, I don't believe he's even been buried yet. If you have a conscious, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Might I remind you that Heston marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. long before it was chic for the Hollywood set to support civil rights. When an Oklahoma City movie theatre refused to integrate during the showing of one of his movies, he joined the protesters.

So he supported gun rights. Big deal. So did Malcolm X. Are you ready to tap-dance on his grave, too?

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 3:59 PM | 4-7-2008