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Sad news, but considering the nature of his illness, probably a release.


In 1965 he was cast as Michelangelo in the film version of Irving Stone’s novel “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” Directed by Carol Reed, the film pitted Mr. Heston’s temperamental artist against Rex Harrison’s testy Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo to create frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Mr. Heston’s performance took a critical drubbing, but to audiences, the larger-than-life role seemed to be another perfect fit. Mr. Heston once joked: “I have played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses. If that doesn’t create an ego problem, nothing does.”

An appreciation

Mr. Heston starred in other notable films, of course, including Sam Peckinpah’s vicious 1965 western, “Major Dundee,” another story about border crossing and yet another ill-fated production taken away from its director. Mr. Heston plays the title character, a fanatical cavalry officer who, along with a motley posse, chases marauding Apaches into Mexico. Mr. Heston has his moments as Dundee — there’s something about his intensity that lends itself to obsessive characterizations — but he remains elusive, never becoming the Ahab that Peckinpah was after. As he had with Welles, Mr. Heston showed great loyalty to his troubled director and threatened to walk if the studio fired Peckinpah, who was drinking heavily throughout the production. Mr. Heston forfeited his salary in the bargain.
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I like him best in his most uncharacteristic role, in Orson Welles's 'Touch of Evil', which I think a great masterpiece. This has the most startling cast ever assembled, I sometimes think. Once you've realized Janet Leigh had defined herself superbly well before 'Psycho', and gotten used to Mercedes McCambridge, then Zsa Zsa Gabor pops up. After you've gotten used to Dennis Weaver's bit, you are then introduced to Marlene Dietrich. Not to mention Welles himself being amazingly fat and effective. Heston blends into this strange melange well. His heroic roles interested me only when I was seeing them as a child. He's one of those I can admire, but rarely ever think of again.

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His heroic roles interested me only when I was seeing them as a child. He's one of those I can admire, but rarely ever think of again.

I'm with you on that. His Moses in The Ten Commandments was one of the characters i remember the most among some "de rigueur" movies that were shown on church when i was a kid...


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