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Charlton Heston: A Generation Y Eulogy

Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageThe world is mourning the recent passing of Charlton Heston, an actor and celebrity who has been on the scene for over fifty years. However, for most people in the "internet generation," what do we really know him for, aside from being famous?

During his heyday, Heston was THE man for overblown Hollywood epics. You probably saw him one day during Hebrew School (The Ten Commandments), or Sunday School (The Greatest Story Ever Told) or even a racial sensitivity seminar (Touch of Evil), but even if you know the names of the movies that he was in…how many of them have most of us actually seen?

(Note to film majors: I know, I know. You're very special, and your film experience kicks ass. Now shut up, and let me make my point.)

Reading down Heston's filmography is akin to scanning a list of the most influential characters in the history of literature, and the literature of history. He played El Cid, and Andrew Jackson, and Ben Hur, and Cardinal Richelieu, and Marc Antony (twice!), and Brigham Young, and Long John Silver, and Sherlock Holmes, and so on. (Note: he did NOT play Spartacus. I always get him and Kirk Douglas confused too…) However, to (I suspect) a good number of today's "youth," Heston is best known for the following things:

1. Saying "You Damn Dirty Apes!" – Heston's work in Planet of the Apes is legendary, mostly because of raging overacting and what now appears to be achingly archaic costumes and makeup. But while this movie used to appear on television all the time "back in my day," I never see it show up on the dial anymore. And let's face it: no one's going out and renting this puppy. So while everyone knows about this film and its star, I'd venture that for many reading this, your only exposure to this story – really – was the excellent novel by Pierre Boulle. Or, perhaps, the disastrous Tim Burton remake, the scene at the end of Spaceballs, or Troy McClure's triumphant work in the Charlton Heston role in the musical.

If this is the case, trust me when I tell you that there's no comparison to the original. Tuck in a bib, and dig in to this:

2.  "Gordon Street? I once knew a girl from Gordon Street…" – Looking through the movies that most of us at least have a chance of seeing, I stumbled across this absolute gem. At the time, he might just have been someone you KNEW was famous without necessarily being able to place his face, but nonetheless you knew this shit was funny. Enjoy:

3. Losing his fucking mind – Look, I personally do not believe in the policies and beliefs of the NRA, but this is not a condemnation of Heston's. However, no matter what the issue, I do think that blatant public whack-jobbery does more to hurt your stance than anything else, no matter how well known you are. Heston's support of this cause became so famous (and famously off-the-rails) that he was the crazy gun guy LONG after anyone considered "young" (and thus sought after by sales and marketing departments worldwide) knew who he was before. Ironically, this is most apparent in the following clip (you know what it's going to be), where he is owned (sorry, pwned) so completely that he sort of transcends his own over-the-top ideology and becomes sympathetic again. It's one thing to stick it to an ill-informed zealot, it's another to attack a doddering old man on camera:

And there, we complete a realistic eulogy for a man we hardly knew, despite being one of the most famous people in the world.  Rest in peace, Mr. Heston. May you never be forgotten (at least, any more than you already were, mostly).