1958: Heston pacts with Metro

June 10, 1958

GOOD MORNING from Rome where Metro is protecting its “Ben-Hur” investment with Charlton Heston by talking a two-pic pact with him for his indie banner and under Metro’s auspices (similar to the Sinatra setup) … Heston’s “B-H” salary is spread over a coupla years to give him a tax break … Ironic that Heston, who lives in a Park La Brea apartment in L.A., is now living in an eight-bedroom five-bath villa in Rome … Cecil B. DeMille wired his “Moses” good luck on the start of the pic … William Wyler’s comment as he inspected the huge Circus Maximus, packed with 5,000 extras: “What would DeMille say about this?”… Wyler, by the way, has been giving Heston a rough time in the acting department, but Heston shrugs it off, recalling a piece of advice given him by Gary Cooper: “An actor never feels like a worse actor than when he’s being directed by Wyler. But he never felt like a better actor than when he sees the final film.” Wyler will not reveal the exact percentage he owns of “Ben-Hur” but says: “I’ll be happy if I do as well as I did on ‘Best Years Of Our Lives'” which he made for Sam Goldwyn. (2006 update: Charlton Heston celebrated his 83rd birthday Wednesday at home. I spoke to his wife Lydia who was awaiting the arrival of son Fraser, grandson Jack and a few friends including the Walter Seltzers and Peter Snell. It is too sad to realize that the once vibrant “Chuck” Heston is a victim of the terrible Alzheimer’s.)

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