World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

H Entries
  John Hamilton
  Earl Hamner, Jr.
  Tom Hanks
  Jonathan Harris
  George Harrison
  Ray Harryhausen
  Byron Haskin
  Howard Hawks
  Ben Hecht
  David Hedison
  Robert A. Heinlein
  Charlton Heston
  Sir Alfred Hitchcock
  Inoshiro Honda
  Ron Howard
  Rock Hudson
  Gale Anne Hurd
  Martha Hyer
(1924–2008). American actor.

Acted in: "Suspicion" (1949), "Santa Fe Freight" (1953), episodes of Suspense; "The Hypnotist" (1950), episode of The Clock; "Macbeth" (1951), episode of Studio One; The Naked Jungle (Byron HASKIN 1954); The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. De Mille 1956); "Beauty and the Beast" (1958), episode of Shirley Temple's Story Book (1958); The Greatest Story Ever Told (George Stevens 1965); Planet of the Apes (Franklin J. SCHAFFNER 1968); Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Ted Post 1969); The Omega Man (Boris SAGAL 1971); Soylent Green (Richard FLEISCHER 1973); Earthquake (Mark ROBSON 1974); The Awakening (Mike Newell 1980); Call from Space (voice; short) (Fleischer 1989); Solar Crisis (Richard C. Sarafian and Allan SMITHEE 1990); Almost an Angel (John Cornell 1990); Noel (animated; narrator) (Masaki Izuka 1992); "Abalon" (1994), episode of SeaQuest DSV; True Lies (James CAMERON 1994); In the Mouth of Madness (John CARPENTER 1994); The Dark Mist (narrator) (Ryan Carroll 1996); Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh 1996); Hercules (animated; narrator) (Ron Clements and John Musker 1997);  Armageddon (narrator) (Michael BAY 1998); "Final Appeal" (2000), episode of The Outer Limits; Planet of the Apes (uncredited) (Tim BURTON 2001); Cats & Dogs (voice) (Lawrence Guterman 2001); Ben Hur (animated; voice) (Ben Kowalchuk 2003).

Appeared in documentaries: The Last Man Alive (short) (1971); A Look at the World of Soylent Green (short) (1973); The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (Arnold Leibovit 1985); The Hollywood Road to Oz (1990); Mystery of the Sphinx (Bill Cote 1993); The Bible According to Hollywood (Philip Dye 1994); A Century of Science Fiction (Ted Newsom 1996); Mysterious Origins of Man (Cote 1996); To Be on Camera: A History with Hamlet (short) (1997); Hollywood Aliens & Monsters (Kevin Burns 1997); Charlton Heston Presents the Bible (Tony Westman 1997); Behind the Planet of the Apes (Burns and David Comtois 1998).

After a brief apprenticeship in television, Charlton Heston quickly established himself as one of Hollywood's biggest stars, most celebrated for leading roles in the biblical epics The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur (1959); at the time, no one could have imagined that such a luminary would ever appear in a science fiction film. But in 1967, the unthinkable happened: it was announced that Heston would be starring in an adaptation of Pierre Boulle's science fiction novel Planet of the Apes. Young filmgoers, who have grown up routinely seeing Hollywood's top talents in science fiction films, cannot appreciate just how stunning it was to hear that an actor of Heston's stature would be following in the footsteps of Richard CARLSON, Jeff MORROW, and John AGAR. By starring in that film, and helping to make it a huge success, Heston almost single-handedly turned the once-marginalized genre of science fiction films into the popular, big-budget tradition that it is today.

Furthermore, while other prominent actors who ventured into science fiction visibly regarded the assignments as beneath their dignity (recall, if you must, Walter PIDGEON), Heston enthusiastically threw himself into the role of astronaut George Taylor, reinventing his screen persona as an athletic, arrogant hothead; indeed, one of the film's subtleties is that, in allowing his character to be portrayed as not entirely admirable, Heston was foreshadowing the final revelation that the species he represents had long ago contrived to destroy itself, perhaps the fate that it deserved.

I prefer to think of Planet of the Apes as the first film in Heston's science fiction trilogy, ignoring his disruptive cameo in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where he rudely shoves aside star James Franciscus in the final fifteen minutes so that he can do the honors of blowing up the planet Earth; clearly, Heston should have either stayed out of the film or agreed to star in it. The Omega Man was not widely admired at the time, probably due to its admittedly-risible conclusion in which Heston's character is literally crucified as he gives up the blood that will save the human race, but Heston's performance was as vigorous as ever, and the film may be winning new admirers as people realize that, for all its flaws, it is still much better than its Will SMITH remake I Am Legend (2007). More successful on all fronts was Soylent Green, a pioneering vision of the future as urban nightmare, with Heston's cynical cop functioning as a dry run for Harrison FORD's Deckard in Blade Runner (1982).

After these ventures into the future, Heston drifted back into more conventional heroics and spent most of the 1980s trying to make it as a television star. As he entered his seventies in the 1990s, his career became a hodgepodge of insignificant guest appearances, cheesy documentaries, and voiceover assignments; about the only time he had any impact was when he memorably appeared as Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER's tough-guy boss in True Lies. He was also spending more time away from the set in his new role as the vice president of the National Rifle Association, energetically promoting the right to bear arms, which led to his ill-advised cameo in Tim BURTON's ill-advised remake of Planet of the Apes, playing an elderly ape who warns of violent humans by brandishing one of their ancient handguns. Burton would have been wiser to make Heston the star of the film; for, even at the age of seventy-seven, Heston would have been a more passionate and engaging protagonist than Mark WAHLBERG. After that final appearance, Heston spent his final years in obscurity, suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, one hopes, periodically remembering and reveling in his glory years.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art