Monday, April 07, 2008

Charlton Heston Has Passed

Charlton Heston--the Oscar winner best known to SF fans for starring in the original Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green and The Omega Man--has died, the Associated Press reported. He was 84.

Heston died April 5 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his wife, Lydia, at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers told the AP. He declined to comment on the cause of death or provide further details.

Heston revealed in 2002 that he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease.

The actor, a Medal of Freedom winner who was also known for championing conservative causes, lent his strong presence to some of the most acclaimed and successful films of the last century. Ben-Hur, in which he played the title role, won 11 Academy Awards. Heston's other hits included The Ten Commandments and Earthquake.

Planet of the Apes, released in 1968, marked his first science fiction role and was a huge hit. He had a cameo role in Tim Burton's 2001 remake of the film.

1971's The Omega Man was the second major feature-film version of Richard Matheson's post-apocalyptic novel I Am Legend; Heston played the role of Robert Neville, the last survivor of a viral epidemic that wiped out humanity.

Soylent Green, released in 1973, starred Heston as a homicide detective in a dystopian future New York ravaged by environmental disasters. It was notable for marking the final performance of Edward G. Robinson and for Heston's final line, "Soylent Green is people!", which became a catch phrase.

In his later years, Heston appeared in several smaller SF and genre movies.

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