It was the 1970's and "Planet of the Apes" was a huge hit. It seemed to be on television quite a bit and we watched it every time it was on. Who could forget "Take your stinking paws off of me you damn dirty ape!" and the shocked look on the face of the apes that the humans could actually speak!!!
That's the first time I saw Charlton Heston on film.
After that it was "Soylent Green" (his famous line "SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!" would become a mainstay in our family for years to come!), then "The Ten Commandments" (nobody else could do the voice of God like he could!) which was made years earlier but was our very first VHS when my folks bought our very first VCR in 1979. Over the years I was able to catch most of his other films including "Ben Hur", "Touch of Evil", "Midway", "The Omega Man", "Two Minute Warning", "The Agony and the Ecstasy", "The Greatest Show on Earth", and so many others. In my family we liked him in everything, even when he was cast as the patriarch of the Colby family in the Dynasty spin-off.
The man had a voice and a powerful screen presence, it was easy to like him. He was one of those men where either you loved him or hated him. In my family he was right up there with John Wayne, we loved him!
Not only was he a fantastic actor but he stood up for his moral and political beliefs not caring how much shit people gave him. He often traded words with his liberal counterparts in Hollywood, he was an outspoken person not afraid to speak his mind and when he stood up for something, you knew it. He was a kind, gentle man, who really cared about his work, his family and his fans. He also cared about his country. Charlton Heston was a civil rights advocate who marched with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, advocated against rap lyrics which glorified the murder of police officers and violence against women, and he was a staunch defender of the second amendment. He believed that Americans should have the ability to protect themselves with firearms from enemies both within and from outside our nation. He never wavered on his beliefs, never changed his mind depending on which way the wind blew. And when some of his fans disliked him for his position, especially when he became president of the NRA, he never once changed his stance to appease the masses. A man known for his integrity, he was---a patriot.
Chuck Heston was my mom's very first hero and has been for over 50 years. They had exchanged letters several times many years ago which mom still has in her scrapbook, I can't tell you how much those letters mean to her. Mom, the liberal Democrat, didn't care that he was a staunch Republican. She loved his movies, adored the man, even when he boldly brandished that rifle before the NRA and bellowed those words "I have only five words for you--FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!!", she didn't care, this was her idol, the man who would never break, never die.
Now the man who was larger than life is gone and even though we knew it would happen eventually, we hoped in the back of our minds, that maybe somehow it just wouldn't---not to him. But sadly, it did. And it is a great loss.