This upcoming Friday, April 5, will be the 5th year anniversary of the death of Charlton Heston, one of the greatest actors of all time. His best known roles include The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Ben-Hur, The Greatest Show on Earth, Midway, Planet of the Apes, and Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
But Chuck was also known for his political activism. He was originally a liberal Democrat, even supporting the Gun Control Act of 1968 (when asked why he did that, he replied, “I was young and foolish”).
But soon aftewards he became a conservative Republican. He eventually took the cause of the right to bear arms. He also compared supporting the Second Amendment to supporting the Civil Rights Movement by saying that he was promoting “freedom in the truest sense.” Chuck later became involved with the National Rifle Association, even being elected its vice-president (1997) and president (1998). His other political activism includes serving on the advisory board of U.S. English (which advocates making English the official language of the United States) and opposing calls for a nuclear freeze in the late twentieth century.
Now for some of his famous quotes:
“You can take my rifle … when you pry it from my cold dead hands!”
(In response to a derogatory remark by George Clooney): “It’s funny how class can skip a generation, isn’t it?”
“Affirmative action is a stain on the American soul.”
“Political correctness is tyranny with manners.”
“People have been asking me for thirty-five years if I was losing jobs because of my conservative politics. I never felt that was the case.”
“Here’s my credo. There are no good guns. There are no bad guns. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a good man is no threat to anyone, except bad people.”
“Warren Beatty is non-typical of Hollywood liberals. He thinks Bill Clinton is an idiot.”
“People in the film community think being politically active means getting on Air Force One and going to dinner at the White House. I’ve scorned a few liberals in this town, and I get a kick out of that.”
“In Hollywood there are more gun owners in the closet than homosexuals.”
“Once the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, I had other agendas.”
“I didn’t change. The Democratic Party slid to the Left from right under me.”
(Regarding Bill Clinton): “America didn’t trust you with their health-care system, America didn’t trust you with gays in the military, America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters. And we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.”
“Too many gun owners think we’ve wandered to some fringe of American life and left them behind.”
“(Andrew) Jackson was one of my favorite presidents. One mean son of a b***h.”
“The law-abiding citizen is entitled to own a rifle, pistol, or shotgun. The right, put simply, shall not be infringed.”
(Regarding actors stating their political opinions): “Well, we have as much right to shoot our mouths off as anyone else. God knows I’ve exercised that right.”
If Chuck was alive today, what would he say about our current political situation?
Image: Charlton Heston from the trailer for Ben Hur; 1959; source:MGM; the public domain