Charlton Heston has left us. Despite any political leanings, I found him to be an extraordinary actor and, one I greatly admired and, sort of "grew up" with. His connections to Science Fiction are pretty solid-he was in more than a few SF films, most notably, PLANET OF THE APES which he immortalized the role of George Taylor, the misanthropic astronaut, who'll go on any mission that gets him away from the planet earth and Man, for "something better in the universe" and winds up indeed, on someplace far worse, and back on earth thousands of years in the future. I also liked him in THE OMEGA MAN(1971) which was an adaptation of the book "I Am Legend" in which the "vampires" of that book became psychotic hippies-"The Family"(styled after Charles Manson's "Family", big news at the time)-who were like, Heston's character, survivors of a biological war that (mostly) wiped out all of mankind. He'd next star in an adaptation of a Harry Harrison book, done as the film SOYLENT GREEN(1973). Both films were based on seminal works of Science Fiction and both were adapted to feature alot of 70's predictions of the years to come and they also had their share of cheesiness that most 1970's flicks had due to minimal set design coupled with flat technicolor lighting. In both films, he still played rather misanthropic characters, something he seemed to be slightly stereotyped for at the time. He also earned his place has having said two of THE most famous lines in Sci-Fi films- "Keep yer stinkin' paws off me you damn dirty apes" from, of course, PLANET OF THE APES and, from SOYLENT GREEN- "Soylent Green is people!!!" . I'd personally add from THE OMEGA MAN "Hey brother, how's your ass?" as he talks to himself in front of his closed circuit TVs in that film.
He sort of became the poster boy for disaster films starring in the spate of that genre of films in the 70's like EARTHQUAKE(1974), SKYJACKED(1972), AIRPORT 1975('75) and GRAY LADY DOWN (1979).
Heston later went on to star in a few more SFnal and horrific potboilers- THE AWAKENING(1980) which was a little seen but well done variation on the "mummy" mythos, and later in the 80's he was in a Japanese big-budget bomb called SOLAR CRISIS which was shot mostly in the US with some (at the time) state-of-the-art FX work. The film was funded by a Japanese publishing company who felt, in 1989, that Heston was big office in Japan(the film found it's way to DVD release here and then disappeared). He'd star as a publisher himself in John Carpenter's Lovecraft pastiche IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS(1995) and then one of his last big screen roles was the uncredited elder ape in Tim Burton's PLANET OF THE APES(2001) in which he says the same lines as from the original, just the species are reversed!
No one could orate like Charlton Heston. No one said "Oh My God" better than he. He narrated things quite well such as the opening to ARMAGEDDON(1998) and a documentary on the highly iffy "Prophecies of Nostrodamus"-utter crap but Heston made it sound real. He even played "God" in the one inventively funny bit from the otherwise incredibly awful Paul Hogan film ALMOST AN ANGEL(1990)
In the end, the ravages of Altzheimer's caught him, a tragic disease which the only release seems to be death. He'll be remembered well in cinema for all his achievements. I'll certainly treasure my DVDs of his film work, because his presence was one of the first I'd ever felt on a movie screen.