Legendary Actor Charlton Heston Died

4/6/2008 The actor's family says his wife was at his side when he passed away at his Beverly Hills home Saturday, but they won't release any other details.

In 1959 Heston won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ben Hur, "May God grant me vengeance I pray you'll live until I return."

He was the Spanish hero El Cid and the artist Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy: "I will paint man as I see fit in the glory of his nakedness."

He played cowboys and astronauts and even landed on The Planet of the Apes. "Dr. Zaius I know who I am but who are you and how in hell did this upside down civilization get started."

"I've been very lucky in my life the chances I've had as an actor and you sort of feel you have a responsibility to pay it back," said Heston in an interview. So while onscreen Heston starred in disaster films like Airport and Earthquake, off-screen this kid from the north woods of Michigan marched along side Martin Luther King to promote Civil rights and served as President of the screen Actor's Guild. In 1978 he was given an honorary Oscar for his humanitarian work.

Heston continued to act but in the later years his role as President of the National Rifle Association overshadowed all else.

"From these cold dead hands"

The skills he had perfected as an actor made him a star in conservative circles, but in 2002 he faced his fans with devastating news. Alzheimer's Disease would rob Heston of his ability to communicate. He had to resign from the NRA but occasionally he would venture on stage here to receive the presidential medal of honor.

"I can part the red sea," he said in one of his last appearances, "but I can't part with you the audience."

"Go proclaim liberty through all the land unto all the inhabitants there of."

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