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: