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The legacy of Charlton Heston

Posted by Richard on April 8, 2008

Charlton Heston was a great actor and a great champion of freedom and individual rights, as Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation noted:

“Mr. Heston stood head and shoulders above other civil rights activists,” Gottlieb recalled, “because he recognized that the Bill of Rights was all-inclusive. He marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King long before it was fashionable for Hollywood stars to involve themselves in social issues. He was a firm believer in freedom of speech, and yet he was not afraid to hold this nation’s press corps and our institutions of higher learning accountable for their stifling political correctness.

“It is not often that a man of such international stature, and with such unquestionable dignity, steps forward to take a leadership role in a struggle of such importance as did Charlton Heston, in his ardent defense of the Second Amendment,” he continued. “Our prayers and most heartfelt thoughts are with Mr. Heston’s family.

“While we join our friends at the NRA in mourning the loss of this great American,” Gottlieb stated, “we should also celebrate the fact that he lived, and that he stood up when it counted. He was certainly an inspiration to those whose lives he touched, and to the millions of gun owners whose rights he unselfishly defended.

“Charlton Heston set an example by doing what he thought was right,” Gottlieb concluded, “and as a nation, we are the better for it.”

What I remember most about Heston is his aesthetic sense, sense of life, and profound understanding of the nature of art, as exemplified by two quotes that have stuck in my mind for many years. I can't seem to locate either one on the Web, so I'll simply paraphrase from memory. 

In an interview where he talked about the nature and role of art, in which he echoed some of Ayn Rand's ideas on the subject, Heston observed that Dustin Hoffman may be a great actor, but Michelangelo is so much more interesting than Ratso Rizzo.

And in response to the observation that many of the historical characters he played were "larger than life," Heston objected that they weren't larger than life, they were real people whom we could aspire to emulate. 

You young people out there could do a lot worse than aspire to emulate Charlton Heston. 

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