As George Taylor in the finale of Planet of the Apes, Charlton Heston pounded the surf-drenched sand and damned mankind to hell for atomic warfare when he realized he was back on Earth, something most viewers surmised far sooner, since the apes were speaking English. He warned the world that “Soylent Green is people!” in the closing scenes of that holocaust movie, long after most supporting characters had devoured their second cousins. And he was the Omega Man, or so he thought, though there seemed to be lots of other people around. He was always kind of confused and super violent, but nobody brought more class and focus to an end-of-the-world film, or any other enterprise in which he appeared, than Chuck. He was also the NRA spokesman who coined the gun lobby’s de-facto tagline by vowing that Al Gore would wrest his Second Amendment rights “from my cold, dead hands.” Such passion made his screen performances vital. Among the memorable roles of his 64-year career: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Moses, Michelangelo, Marc Antony, Cardinal Richelieu, Buffalo Bill Cody, Sir Thomas More (oddly, AdFreaked just last week), John the Baptist, Sherlock Holmes and Judah Ben-Hur. Early in Apes, Taylor says: “I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man. Has to be.” Here’s hoping Chuck finds just that. Heston died Saturday at age 84.
—Posted by David Gianatasio