The editor’s opinion from Marketplace, Northeast Wisconsin’s business magazine. (Obligatory disclaimer: Most hyperlinks go to outside sites, and we’re not responsible for their content. And like fresh watermelon, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes and sweet corn, hyperlinks can go bad after a while.)

April 8, 2008

RIP Mr. Heston

Investors Business Daily has an excellent editorial on the life of actor and former National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston, who died Saturday.

I have apparently now reached the age where most of what I see in the media prompts a story. My one encounter with Heston was at Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, where Heston was flown in for a 1998 campaign appearance with Mark Green, a state representative who was running for Congress against Democratic incumbent Jay Johnson. Heston noted that his wife, Lydia, was a native of “Trivers,” and told the story of how Lydia had been asked if, in their then-54-year marriage, she had ever considered divorcing her husband? According to her husband, her answer was: “Divorce? Never. Murder? Often.”

(Later that night, Green and Johnson debated each other on the late Wisconsin Public Television “WeekEnd” show. I concluded that Johnson was in serious trouble not just because he was a Democrat in a very Republican-leaning district — are you paying attention, Rep. Kagen? — but because the two young campaign staffers sitting in the control room at WPT’s UW–Green Bay studios were very vocal in their inaccurate conclusion that Johnson had wiped the floor with Green in the debate.)

Heston is known more for his starring roles in “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur,” “Planet of the Apes,” and my favorite of his, "Touch of Evil.” But he was political at a time when his stands weren’t exactly popular in Hollywood — he marched with Martin Luther King, and then, more than 30 years later, served as the NRA’s most visible president in its history. Heston and actor Tom Selleck took on the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists when the two did a free commercial for National Review and AFTRA tried to force the magazine to pay Heston and Selleck union scale. Heston also committed a flagrant act of public notice when, at a Time Warner shareholder meeting in 1992, he read aloud the (highly profane) lyrics to Ice-T’s “Cop Killer.”

Heston was a throwback to the days when the public could see celebrities as role models, because the public image basically matched the real man. (He and Lydia were married for 64 years.)

“The egalitarian world view now considered politically correct makes us uneasy with the idea that one individual is better than the rest of us,” said Heston in a 1995 interview. ”But having played several great men, I can tell you that they are better than we are.”

The world is worse off without Heston in it.

No comments: