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Top Roles of Charlton Heston

Updated on June 9, 2009

Short Biography of Charlton Heston

Born on October 24, 1923 as John Charles Carter, Charlton Heston was an American movie star famous for his epic roles throughout the second half of the 20th century.  Charlton was an avid fan of firearms and leader of the NRA from 1998-2003.  He passed away April 5, 2008.

The Greatest Show on Earth - Brad Braden

In Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Charlton Heston plays the role of Brad Braden, circus manager for the Ringling Bros. - Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Charlton Heston must face the problems of a motley crew of circus performers and waning public demand for the circus.

The Greatest Show on Earth was the movie that put Charlton Heston in the spotlight, and lined him up for greater roles to come.

The Ten Commandments - Moses

Charlton Heston's timeless potrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1956) is outstanding. Heston is at his best in the film, potraying the great prophet of the Old Testament. As Moses, Heston casts aside his life as a prince of Egypt in order to free his people from bondage.

Charlton Heston's iconic parting of the red sea has become a staple of American cinema, with numerous parodies and references.  It can be found on the Great Movie Ride at Epcot Center and even in a 2008 presidential campaign ad.

Ben Hur - Judah Ben-Hur

In Ben-Hur (1959), Charlton Heston plays the part of Judah Ben-Hur, a wealthy aristocrat living in Roman occupied Jerusalem around the time of Christ. Due to the accidental injury of the governor of Judea, Judah's mother and sister are imprisoned and he is sent to the galleys. Ben-Hur's famous chariot race scene has been the inspiration for countless other theatric races, including the pod race in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Ben-Hur was perhaps Charlton Heston's greatest and most famous role.

El Cid - Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (El Cid)

El Cid (1961) was the last of the Hollywood epics featuring Charlton Heston.  In El Cid, Heston plays the role of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar also known as El Cid.  El Cid (Arabic for The Sir) is considered the National Hero of Spain, and Charlton Heston stays true to this title with his heroic potrayal of the Cid.

Planet of the Apes - George Taylor

In the 1968 Sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes, Charlton Heston is Colonel George Taylor.  Planet of the Apes takes place 800 years in the future, on an "alien" planet that happens to be inhabited by apes!  Whodathunkit? Roles are reversed on this planet, with the apes leading civilization and humans as dumb as animals.  Charlton soon winds up the sole survivor of his crew, and impresses the apes with his ability to speak.

Heston's role as Taylor permanently changed science fiction with this cult classic.


The Omega Man - Colonel Robert Neville, M.D.

Perhaps you've heard of the movie I Am Legend starring Will Smith, wll this is in fact a remake of the 1971 film The Omega Man. In The Omega Man Charlton Heston takes the role of Colonel Robert Neville, a doctor who is immune to a biological weapon that has either wiped out or mutated the rest of humanity.  Heston lives alone, believing himself to be the sole survivor of the biological attack.  By day he does research and searches for supplies, and by night he fights off the anti-science albino human mutants led by Matthias.

The Omega Man wasn't exactly one of Heston's greatest acting triumphs, but it did have influence over future dystopian/horror flicks.

Other Films Starring Charlton Heston

These are just a handful of Charlton Heston's roles.  His greatest hits per se.  Some other notable Heston performances can be found in...

  • Will Penny
  • Julius Caesar
  • Pony Express
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told

Regardless of what you think of Charlton Heston's politics, there is no arguing that he was a great actor and that he will be missed.

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