Charlton Heston had a pretty great Hollywood career, all things considered: playing Moses in The Ten Commandments, winning an Oscar for Ben-Hur and starring in sci-fi blockbuster Planet of the Apes.
Yet his career tailed off towards the end of his life as he focused on Republican politics. Heston founded a conservative political action committee, was a prominent supporter of Ronald Reagan and most notoriously served as a five-term president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Instead of being rewarded with a slew of lifetime acting achievement awards, Heston won a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance in Warren Beatty’s flop Town & Country.
Now, his children say that his political prominence and career decline are hardly mutually exclusive.
Heston’s film director son Fraser Heston explains in by Marc Eliot’s new biography Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon: “It was the Hollywood press and the glitterati that shunned him. It may not have been as obvious as people like to think, but it hurt him career-wise. There were important supporting roles that he could have played.”
He added: “I would hear from people in the industry who would say to me things like, ‘Why did your father say this?’ or ‘Why did he stand up for that?’ and always with the implication that it cost him professionally.
“It was almost as if he was backing something like child molestation rather than the Second Amendment…I even heard things after Columbine from the liberal community in Hollywood, which is nearly everybody, like, ‘Why is your dad a proponent of child murder?’ What do you possibly say in response to something like that?’
Heston added: “He still got work through all of it, maybe not the parts he would have wanted, but some important projects.”
Heston’s adopted daughter Holly Ann Heston agreed: “Dad lost jobs because of his politics, there was no question, and he was okay about it.
“He said to me one day at the height of the controversy, ‘I worked long and hard to get where I am so I can stand behind what I believe in, and I don’t care if I don’t get a job, I’ve had plenty of great jobs. It’s okay.’ “