Sunday, April 6, 2008

THE HAT SQUAD: CHARLTON HESTON

Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall....

Off the top of my head, I'd say they were the last of Hollywood's Golden Age of great stars we have left, now that Charlton Heston is gone. He probably came in at the tail end of that star system, but there are few who made movies that were bigger, that could be considered epics.

Just a list of his movies in which he played historical figures is a commanding package of which any actor would feel his resume was complete:

Moses - "The Ten Commandments"
John The Baptist - "The Greatest Story Ever Told"
Michelangelo - "The Agony And The Ecstasy"
Henry VIII - "Crossed Swords"
"El Cid"
General Gordon - "Khartoum"
Marc Antony - "Julius Caesar" & "Antony And Cleopatra"
Andrew Jackson - "The President's Lady" & "The Buccaneer"
and my personal favorite of the historical characters,
Cardinal Richelieu - "The Three Musketeers" & "The Four Musketeers"

And it's possible that some of the movies he appeared in would have been considered schlock without his contributions - "Planet Of The Apes", "Soylent Green", "The Omega Man", "Earthquake", and "Airport 1975". (I still would have gone to see them though!)

Like many actors of his stature (for instance, Richard Widmark, who passed away two weeks ago), Charlton Heston will be remembered for his movies. But he had a body of work for television that was just as impressive.

The full list is below, but here are just some of the highlights first:

BEN-HUR - In one of his last roles, after his withdrawal from most public appearances, Heston lent his voice to an animated adaptation of the life of Lew Wallace's hero, Judah Ben-Hur. So his most famous role in the movies also was given life in an alternate dimension of Toobworld.

THE OUTER LIMITS (FINAL APPEAL, PARTS 1 & 2) - This is probably the best use of a clip show ever in a series. If you're going to do it right, pack the new material with mega-watt stars to disguise the fact that it's a clip show. Heston played the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court near the end of this century, about twenty five years after a nuclear holocaust destroyed most of the world. Those who survived chose a strictly-enforced bucolic life with harsh penalties for the use of technology. Also in the cast were Cicely Tyson, Hal Holbrook, Robert Loggia, Michael Moriarty, Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly McGillis, Wallace Langham, and Amanda Plummer.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - Even though he sent a damning letter to Lorne Michaels about the quality of the show (as mentioned in the 15th anniversary special in 1989), Heston still agreed to come on and host the damned thing in 1987. And apparently he must have had a good time doing so, since he came back again six years later. In the first outing, Heston's best sketch was a spoof of mini-series that were based on the works of authors like Fletcher Knebel - "The President Has Mustard On His Chin". (In Skitlandia they'll probably be re-broadcasting that in the memory of their version of Heston.) But it was the 1993 episode of SNL that can boast having the best opening and monologue ever in the history of the series - Heston fell asleep in his dressing room, and when he awoke he found that the world had been taken over by apes! Between those two bits, even the opening credits montage had been re-filmed exactly, but with all the humans (the biker, the relaxing short order cooks) had been replaced by ape counterparts. (He also made appearances on 'Mad TV' and with Rowan & Martin.)

THE CRUCIFER OF BLOOD - As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I'm not too keen on this TV adaptation of the stage play. But taken for what it is, it's an enjoyable way to wallow in the doings of Baker Street.

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS - Between this and "The Crucifer Of Blood", and movies like "Crossed Swords" and "Khartoum", I wonder if there were people out there who believed that Heston was British? While 'The Six Wives Of Henry VIII' stands as the definitive take on the life of King Henry, this adaptation of the stage play brings the best look into the life of St. Sir Thomas More into the cathode light of Toobworld. (It wasn't the first production of the play on TV, however. That was broadcast in England back in 1964.)

THE COLBYS - By this point in his career, Heston deserved the chance to take it easier in his work and still rake in the big bucks while doing so. Although this spin-off from 'Dynasty' couldn't exactly catch the magic of the original, 'The Colbys' did have a stellar cast who gave it their best shot (including "Miss Barbara Stanwyck" and Ricardo Montalban).
CHIEFS - One of the last of the mini-series in its true form - most of those made for today are no more than glorified two-part TV movies. The hunt for a serial killer in a small town spanned three decades and was told through the lives of the three police chiefs during that time. Heston played a town leader who observed the investigations by the Chiefs played by Wayne Rogers, Brad Davis, and Billy Dee Williams. I think it's under-rated and you should give it a look if you get the chance.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - This is an episode of 'Shirley Temple's Storybook' which predated Shelley Duvall's 'Fairy Tale Theater' with its retellings of classic fairy tales with all-star casts. Claire Bloom played Beauty in this version; her sisters were played by June Lockhart and Barbara Baxley with EG Marshall as the Merchant - not a shabby lot! However, although I've never seen this (I'll have to check the Paley Center to see if they have it.), I wish Shirley Temple had played the role of Beauty instead. At least that way there might have been a chance for it to be included in one of the DVD boxed sets of episodes from the series that Ms. Temple-Black released. I think the role of the Beast is a perfect TV role for Heston.

Charlton Heston is a candidate for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame in the League of Themselves division for his appearances on four different series as fictional versions of himself:

"Cursed"

- ...And Then Larry Brought Charlton Heston Home
"Friends"
- The One with Joey's Dirty Day
"Space Ghost Coast to Coast"
- Dam
"America 2-Night"
- 60 Seconds of Fame

Here is the list of Charlton Heston's major TV credits:

Ben Hur (2003) (TV) (voice) .... Ben Hur

"The Outer Limits" .... Chief Justice Haden Wainwright (1 episode, 2000)
- Final Appeal (2000) TV episode .... Chief Justice Haden Wainwright

"Camino de Santiago" (1999) (mini) TV mini-series .... Professor Marcelo Rinaldi

Bagpipe: Instrument of War - Part 1 (1998) (TV) .... Narrator

"Sworn to Secrecy: Secrets of War" (1998) TV series .... Narrator (unknown episodes)


Bagpipe: Instrument of War - Part 2 (1998) (TV) .... Narrator

The Avenging Angel (1995) (TV) .... Brigham Young



"The Great Battles of the Civil War" (1994) (mini) TV mini-series (voice) .... Abraham Lincoln

"SeaQuest DSV" .... Abalon (1 episode, 1994)
- Abalon (1994) TV episode .... Abalon

James Michener's Texas (1994) (TV) .... Narrator

"Saturday Night Live" .... Host (2 episodes, 1987-1993)
- Charlton Heston/Paul Westerberg (1993) TV episode .... Host
- Charlton Heston/Wynton Marsalis (1987) TV episode .... Host

Noel (1992) (TV) (voice) .... Narrator

Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232 (1992) (TV) .... Captain Al Haynes

The Crucifer of Blood (1991) (TV) .... Sherlock Holmes

The Little Kidnappers (1990) (TV) .... James MacKenzie

Treasure Island (1990) (TV) .... Long John Silver

Original Sin (1989) (TV) .... Louis Mancini

A Man for All Seasons (1988) (TV) .... Sir Thomas More


Christmas Night with the Two Ronnies (1987) (TV) .... Various Roles
"The Two Ronnies" (1 episode, 1987)
- 1987 Christmas Special (1987) TV episode

Proud Men (1987) (TV) .... Charley Mac Leod Sr.

"The Colbys" .... Jason Colby / ... (49 episodes, 1985-1987)

"Dynasty" .... Jason Colby (3 episodes, 1985)

Nairobi Affair (1984) (TV) .... Lee Cahill

"Chiefs" (1983) (mini) TV mini-series .... Hugh Holmes

"Hallmark Hall of Fame" .... Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex / ... (2 episodes, 1963-1968)
- Elizabeth the Queen (1968) TV episode .... Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex
- The Patriots (1963) TV episode .... Thomas Jefferson

"A Whole Scene Going" (1 episode, 1966)
- Episode #1.23 (1966) TV episode

What Is a Boy (1966) (TV)

"Alcoa Premiere" .... Paul Malone (1 episode, 1961)
- The Fugitive Eye (1961) TV episode .... Paul Malone

"Playhouse 90" .... Charles Gray / ... (2 episodes, 1956-1958)
- Point of No Return (1958) TV episode .... Charles Gray
- Forbidden Area (1956) TV episode .... Major Jesse Price

"Shirley Temple's Storybook" .... The Beast (1 episode, 1958)
- Beauty and the Beast (1958) TV episode .... The Beast

"Climax!" .... Chipman / ... (2 episodes, 1955-1957)
- The Trial of Captain Wirtz (1957) TV episode .... Chipman
- Bailout at 43,000 Feet (1955) TV episode .... Lieutenant Paul Peterson

"Schlitz Playhouse of Stars" (2 episodes, 1951-1957)
- Switch Station (1957) TV episode
- One Is a Lonesome Number (1951) TV episode

"General Electric Theater" .... Tim (1 episode, 1955)
- The Seeds of Hate (1955) TV episode .... Tim

"Omnibus" (1 episode, 1955)
- The Birth of Modern Times (1955) TV episode

"Robert Montgomery Presents" .... Peter Handley (3 episodes, 1952-1955)
- Along Came Jones (1955) TV episode
- The Closed Door (1952) TV episode .... Peter Handley
- Cashel Byron's Profession (1952) TV episode

"Danger" (1 episode, 1954)
- Freedom to Get Lost (1954) TV episode

"Your Show of Shows" (3 episodes, 1951-1954)

"Medallion Theatre" (1 episode, 1953)
- A Day in Town (1953) TV episode

"The Philco Television Playhouse" (2 episodes, 1950-1953)
- Elegy (1953) TV episode
- Hear My Heart Speak (1950) TV episode

"Curtain Call" (1 episode, 1952)
- The Liar (1952) TV episode

"Studio One" .... Edward Rochester / ... (12 episodes, 1949-1952)
Smoke (15 June 1949) - Actor
The Outward Room (26 September 1949) - Actor
Battleship Bismark (24 October 1949) - Actor
Of Human Bondage (21 November 1949) - Actor
Jane Eyre (12 December 1949) - Edward Rochester
The Willow Cabin (27 February 1950) - Actor
The Taming of the Shrew (5 June 1950) - Petruchio
Wuthering Heights (30 October 1950) - Heathcliff
Letter from Cairo (4 December 1950) - Actor
Macbeth (22 October 1951) - Macbeth
A Bolt of Lightning (12 November 1951) - James Otis
The Wings of the Dove (10 March 1952) - Actor

"Lux Video Theatre" (1 episode, 1951)
- Route 19 (1951) TV episode

"Suspense" (3 episodes, 1949-1951)
- Santa Fe Flight (1951) TV episode
- Suspicion (1949) TV episode (perhaps a live repeat of the earlier production?)
- Suspicion (1949) TV episode

"The Clock" (1 episode, 1950)
- The Hypnotist (1950) TV episode

"Mad TV" .... Himself (1 episode, 2001)
- Episode #7.7 (2001) TV episode .... Himself

"Cursed" .... Himself (1 episode, 2000)
- ...And Then Larry Brought Charlton Heston Home (2000) TV episode .... Himself

"Friends" .... Himself (1 episode, 1998)
- The One with Joey's Dirty Day (1998) TV episode .... Himself

"Space Ghost Coast to Coast" .... Himself (1 episode, 1997)
- Dam (1997) TV episode .... Himself

Saturday Night Live: 15th Anniversary (1989) (TV) .... Himself

"America 2-Night" .... Himself (1 episode, 1978)
- 60 Seconds of Fame (1978) TV episode .... Himself

So here's to you, Mr. Heston. I wasn't a fan of your politics (There's another reason most of your pictures here are on the right), but there's no denying what you brought to the movies and to Toobworld....

May God Bless.....

BCnU....
Toby OB

"When the doctors told me I was dying, I took a look at my life.
All these houses, helicopters, money... Good prizes...
I never gave a damn for any of them, really.
For me it was just doing it, a challenge... like a game
."
Jason Colby
'The Colbys'

2 comments:

Mercurie said...

He truly was one of the last great stars. I swear, the man was born to make historical epics. I can't picture anyone else as El Cid myself.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that Charlton Heston was the perfect man ,that God truly made him in his image, and that was why Charlton Heston was so convincing in the movies he starred in. Rachel Lacey