1958: Charlton Heston begins ‘Ben-Hur’

Actor's career remains multifaceted

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). 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.” … (2008 update: Heston went on to win the Oscar for his performance in “Ben-Hur” and continued his illustrious career which dramatically ended when, on Aug. 9, 2002, he issued a statement saying he may have “a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer’s.” He retired to care at his home. “He has never complained once. It’s tough,” his son Fraser told me. This past Monday, Charlton Heston and wife Lydia celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at home … Fraser says he has “wrestled back” the docu, “Charlton Heston Presents the Bible” and “we’re looking at new information and music to add.” He is also prepping “DeMille Directs,” with an original screenplay by Steve Paolozzia for his Agamemnon Films. Fraser reminds he played the infant, 3-month old Moses, discovered by the Pharoah’s daughter in “The 10 Commandments.” Heston’s multi-faceted career included presidency of SAG and the National Rifle Assn. As the NRA’s first vice president in 1997 , he initiated a column, “From the Capitol” in Guns and Ammo magazine. He was a staunch supporter/advocate of the Second Amendment. He and I had many differing arguments about it, but retained our 50-year friendship. Ironically this week, the Supreme Court appeared ready to finally rule on gun ownership. Heston would have had something to say. I would have still argued with him.)