LOS ANGELES (AP) — Charlton Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing “Ben-Hur” and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the ’50s and ’60s, has died. He was 84. Heston spokesman Bill Powers says the actor died Saturday night at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia was at his side.
Heston revealed in 2002 that he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease, saying, “I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure.”
With his large, muscular build, well-boned face and sonorous voice, Heston proved the ideal star during the period when Hollywood was filling movie screens with panoramas depicting the religious and historical past. “I have a face that belongs in another century,” he often remarked.
WIKIPEDIA: Heston campaigned for Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. When an Oklahoma movie theater premiering his movie was segregated, he joined a picket line outside in 1961. During the civil rights march held in Washington, D.C. in 1963, he accompanied Martin Luther King Jr., wearing a sign reading “All Men Are Created Equal.” [pictured, left] In later speeches, Heston said he helped the civil rights cause “long before Hollywood found it fashionable.” Heston planned to campaign for Lyndon Johnson, but when filming on Major Dundee went over schedule, was unable.
In 1968, following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Heston appeared on The Joey Bishop Show and, along with fellow actors Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and James Stewart, called for public support for President Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968. Heston saw McCarthyism and racial segregation as helping the cause of Communism worldwide, and opposed both. He also opposed the Vietnam War.
By the 1980s, Heston opposed affirmative action, supported gun rights and changed his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican. He campaigned for Republicans and Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.In 1996, Heston attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative movement organizations. There he posed for a group photo with former White Citizens Council organizer and founder of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Gordon Lee Baum, and former Republican Senator George Allen (VA), which was published in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC’s newsletter, the Citizens Informer. 
He was the President and spokesman of the NRA from 1998 until his resignation in 2003. At the 2000 NRA convention, he was best known for declaring, while raising a hand-made Brooks flintlock rifle over his head, that presidential candidate Al Gore would take away his Second Amendment rights “from my cold, dead hands.”
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