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Charlton Heston’s Daughter Confirms What We Thought All Along

While many people assume that legendary actor Charlton Heston was as imposing in real life as he was in his iconic movies, the handsome, 6-foot-3 star’s son, Fraser Heston has recently shed some new light on his father that puts that narrative to bed.

As a child watching his father take on tough-guy roles appearing in historical dramas like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments, Fraser must have thought that his dad was some kind of professional chariot driver. No doubt, Fraser put his celebrity dad up on this enormous pedestal. And really, given his status, how could he not?

But even though Heston was one of the most sought-after leading men in Hollywood during the Golden Age of cinema, he made room in his busy schedule to spend quality time with those who mattered most. Fraser, in an exclusive interview, that he gave to Closer in early 2022, described Charlton as a devoted family man who was deeply committed to his wife of 64 years, Lydia, and his two children.

Not only was Charlton Heston a man with strong moral principles and family values, but he was also quite outspoken in his opposition to social injustices. He was one of just a handful of Hollywood actors who spoke openly against racism. Because of this, he was also an active supporter of the civil rights movement.

Later in his life, Heston dedicated much of his time and energy to political matters that he felt strongly about. He formed a conservative political action committee and supported his friend Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, and from 1998 to 2003, he served as the president of the NRA. Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, it’s clear that Heston was quite passionate about the matters that spoke to his morals and values.

From philanthropy to politics to family time, Charlton Heston, although generally depicted as this almost larger-than-life, tough-as-nails character, was a man of strong moral caliber. Unlike some of his morally ambiguous Hollywood contemporaries, he was the kind of person that was worth looking up to.

Besides Fraser, however, there is yet another person who has nothing but praise for Charlton. Not surprisingly, that person is his other child, Holly. Join us as we see what Holly and Fraser had to say about their father while taking a look back at his storied life and career.

Facts Verse Presents: Charlton Heston’s Daughter Confirms What We Thought All Along

Holly and Fraser’s Warm Memories Of Their Father

Charlton’s children naturally were in awe of their film star father, but at home, the Planet of the Apes star showed a much softer side of himself than what audiences were used to seeing on the big screen. According to Holly and Fraser, Heston was a warm and approachable man who always put his family first.

Unlike many of his colleagues, Charlton managed to strike a balance with his family, career, and activism. Since he went on to become a champion for civil rights and other causes, these things required him to display courage and conviction.

People that know nothing about him aside from his film roles, might just see him as this overly conservative and rigid Old Testament kind of guy. But according to Fraser, despite his political leanings, he wasn’t that sort of man at all. To him, Charlton was a ‘loving, engaging, funny guy’.

Lydia, Fraser, and Holly saw Charlton’s gentler side. And to them, it was this aspect of his character that was his greatest source of heroism. Fraser lauded Charlton as a very patient father, while Holly told Closer that her father valued quality time. Whenever he was with her, he was completely with her. Easily, he could have allowed himself to get caught up in his work and lose focus on domestic matters, but to Charlton, his craft as an actor was only a means to an end. It was the way that he was able to support his family, and the last thing that he was going to allow to happen was fall off that path and get absorbed in his career.

Both children knew that Charlton was devoted to their mother. The two had been college sweethearts who pounced at the first opportunity that they had to get married in 1944.

During the Second World War, Charlton served his country as an aerial gunner. Throughout the war, there was only one woman who Heston thought about back home – that, of course, was Lydia. The two remained by each other’s side right up until the end. Toward the final years of his life, Charlton was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t even be himself if it weren’t for Lydia.

But it wasn’t just his family that made him be the man he was. It was those distinct, uncompromising convictions that Charlton held that helped mold his character. Heston marched on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement. He knew there was so much at stake, and it was crucial for him to take a stand even when it wasn’t popular to do so.

But then again, being unpopular was never something that worried Charlton. Even when his support for the National Endowment for the Arts was at odds with his buddy Ronald Reagan and his status as President of the National Rifle Association drew criticism from gun control advocates, he never backed down from his convictions. In fact, he once said “I wish for you the courage to be unpopular, as Courage is history’s true currency’.

Never in the actor’s life did he ever display any cowardice – nor could anyone ever accuse him of lacking heart. During the Vietnam war, he did three tours to visit troops on the frontlines. When he would return home, he would make it his duty to call all of their loved ones to let them know that they were okay.

Fraser told Closer “you would think that after serving in World War II, someone would receive a ‘get-out-of-public-service-free’ card”, but Charlton never saw it that way. Rather, he was devoted to helping others even when that put a strain on his time and energy.

Charlton never once relented in terms of his courage. Even when he was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease before dying at 84 in 2008, Holly says that her dad faced his illness with dignity and grace. She added that there weren’t any ’empty buckets on his bucket list’, as he really felt as though he had ‘so much richness in his life’.

Sophia Loren Drove Charlton Heston Crazy

While Charlton’s children had nothing but praise and words of admiration for their father, apparently, he didn’t get along with everyone.

The Hollywood tough guy reportedly refused to make eye contact with his co-star Sophia Loren during their famous love-making scene in El Cid. For the film’s big death scene, Heston later claimed that he had instead been ‘looking off into the future’ rather than facing Loren. Even critics of the film took notice of this in their reviews.

While most men, actors or otherwise, would have been overjoyed to spend time with Loren, Heston was not impressed by her looks or talent. The world was going ga-ga over her in 1960, and she seemed to have set Hollywood ablaze after signing a five-film contract with Paramount in 1956, but Charlton saw this as merely a facade.

Loren appeared in starring roles opposite heavyweights like Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra, and Cary Grant. She had made a name for herself with powerful performances in films like It Happened in Naples, The Pride and the Passion, Houseboat, and The Millionaires.

Throughout her relatively brief time in the spotlight, she had already established herself as a gifted actress who was equally skilled at drama and comedy. She was even the first person to win an acting Oscar for a none-English language film for her performance in Two Women.

So, what didn’t Heston like about her?

Going into El Cid, Heston was already a major film star, just as she was. In 1959, he had taken home an Oscar for his performance in Ben-Hur. Since he had been the director’s first choice for the leading role, he felt a sense of responsibility and ownership over his involvement with the El Cid project.

When Loren was brought on board, however, she too being famous and widely acclaimed, felt equally opinionated and strong-willed over the film. As soon as she arrived, she started throwing around demands. Apparently,  she wanted the script to be rewritten with a more romantic scenes involving her character, Dona Ximena. She additionally only agreed to film for between eight and ten weeks, so the movie’s filming schedule had to be reworked to accommodate her. On top of all that, she insisted on being paid a fortune!

Some reports claim that she made $1 million for the role while others give a more conservative estimate of $200,000. Either way, she was getting more than Heston was.

Not only that, but Loren began throwing around her weight by making all sorts of absurd demands – such as insisting that the film’s script be translated into Italian and then back into an English that she was more comfortable using.

In time, Heston grew tired of Loren’s princess-like attitude. In fact, things got so uncomfortable on set that he demanded that a stand-in body double be hired on to take his place in close-up scenes that only showed Loren’s mug. As the shoot continued and the situation deteriorated further, the film’s director, Antony Mann, struggled to get Heston to look at Loren at all.

This sticky situation wasn’t the first time that Heston butted heads with one of his co-stars, however, because back on the set of Cecil B. Demile’s masterpiece Biblical epic, The Ten Commandments, Yul Brynner fought tooth-and-nail not to get upstaged by his alpha male co-star.

Heston was cast as Moses, while Brynner was selected to play Pharaoh Rameses. The 6’3 Charlton towered over Yul, who stood at 5’7, but Byrnner wasn’t going to let that height disparity lead to him being overshadowed.

After learning that Ramseses would be shirtless for the majority of the film’s three-plus hour runtime, he took on a serious weightlifting regimen to get cut. But aside from impressing the audience with his chiseled abs and stellar performance, Brynner successfully earned Heston’s respect. Though they may have been rivals at one point, the Moses actor later was quoted as saying that his co-star gave the best performance of the film. How about that for humility?

Charlton Heston may be one of the most famous Hollywood tough-guys of all time, but his children have shown us that he was also a devoted family man who would have given anything to see his loved ones happy.

History hasn’t painted the stars of yesteryear in the most flattering light – especially the men – but Charlton Heston was apparently cut of a different cloth. He was a man of values, courage, and uncompromising convictions.

While we’re just about out of time for this video, we’d love hear what you have to say about the Ben-Hur star. Did you know that Charlton Heston was a fierce supporter of the civil rights movement and that he once marched on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with MLK? And were you aware that he and Sophia Loren couldn’t stand each other on the set of El Cid? Let us know in the comments.

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