(AP Photo/Wyatt Counts, FILE)
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.
Powers declined to comment on the cause of death. Heston revealed in 2002 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.
Publicist Michael Levine, who represented Heston for about 20 years, says the actor's passing represents the end of an iconic era for cinema.
He says, quote, "If Hollywood had a Mt. Rushmore, Heston's face would be on it. He was a heroic figure that I don't think exists to the same degree in Hollywood today."
The actor played the role of leader offscreen as well. He served
as president of the Screen Actors Guild and chairman of the
American Film Institute and marched in the civil rights movement of
the 1950s. With age he grew more conservative and campaigned for
conservative candidates and in 1998 was elected president of the
National Rifle Association.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)