Monday, April 07, 2008

My close encounter with Charlton Heston (sorta)

So Moses died on Saturday which was also the birthday of Bette Davis (thanks to TMC for that information). I wasn't a huge fan of Charlton Heston. I liked certain performances of his, particularly Moses in The Ten Commandments (who can forget the scene where he's parting the Red Sea, and you can see his Rolex?), Planet of the Apes, and a few others. Most of the time, I thought he was a good looking man who wasn't a very good actor compared to other actors in the 1950's like Burt Lancaster and Paul Newman. I did however like his performances in Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments when he wore no shirt.

Remember The Colbys? The dreadful spin-off of Dynasty where he was supposed to be madly in love with Katherine Ross who was about as wooden as a spoon? I remember Barbara Stanwyck acting rings around him. I also had huge problems with his support of the NRA later on.

Anyway this post is about almost close encounter with Charlton Heston. After college, I went to study acting at the British American Drama Academy in London. That fall Mr. Heston was appearing in A Man for All Seasons playing Sir Thomas More in the West End. We all went as a group to see the production, sitting way up in the gods. I remember being so excited about seeing an icon like Charlton Heston on stage only to be sorely disappointed by his performance. His wig did more acting than he did. It was probably the only time that I actually rooted for Henry VIII to kill More.

However, what he did next, is something that I'll always be grateful for. He came to give a talk at Regents College for the students at BADA and a select number of other students who were from Northwestern University, his alma mater. It was fascinating to be in the same room with him, and hear him talk about acting and his career and how important Northwestern was to him. Almost made me wish that I had applied there after all.

I wasn't lucky enough to get a picture taken with him because I wasn't a Northwestern student, but I thought it was so nice of him to take the time out of his day to come and talk to a group of students, particularly when he had been performing the night before and had two performances that day. I thought he was very gracious to let us ask him questions, particularly since you could tell that most of the students (apart from the drama students) didn't really know his work as an actor.

So here's to Charlton Heston for giving so many people pleasure in the movies.

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