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Charlton Heston (1924 -- 2008)

Born in Illinois, Charlton Heston struggled as an actor at first but went on to appear in more than 100 films and TV shows in a career spanning more than five decades. Tall and gritty, his big break came when he was cast as the circus ringmaster in Cecil B DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). He famously played Moses in The Ten Commandments, again directed by DeMille, and the title role in William Wyler's Ben-Hur (1959), for which he won Best Actor among the film's eleven Oscars®. By the end of the fifties, his enduring screen persona was firmly set as an imposing epic hero. The sixties saw him star in El Cid (1961) and Planet of the Apes (1968) and in the seventies he appeared in several disaster movies. More recently, he headed Hollywood's Screen Actor's Guild and championed America's gun lobby. Diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he died aged 84 with his wife of 64 years, Lydia, at his side.