Charlton Heston: The Original Action Hero

He had a reputation for playing every historical role known to cinema, but Charlton Heston (who passed away Sunday at age 84) was also the predecessor to a certain popular action hero. Dave Kehr's blog on the actor mentions the role of Henry Steele, the hero from 1954's Secret of the Incas. Like our man Indiana Jones, Steele is a grizzled adventurer who sports a fedora and leather jacket, and searches the world over for lost treasures.

ImageAccording to Cinematical, Spielberg and Lucas screened the movie for the crew while putting together Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, Incas has not yet been released on DVD.

Whatever the movie's influence, or Heston's on or off-screen pursuits -- he won Best Actor for Ben-Hur and later served as president of the NRA -- I'll mostly remember him from one of his more popular hits. As a kid, I was bowled over by Planet of the Apes and its final shot, as well as Heston's oft-quoted line, "Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!" The movie worked like gangbusters then, and still works now. Ironically, when it was finally remade,the actor was recast as one of the man-hating simians (watch the full-length version on our sister site, Fancast).

Whether you agreed with Heston's politics or not, he was always a larger-than-life, classic Hollywood figure. We're not likely to see many more icons of that stature, guys who are equally comfortable playing everyone from Moses and Marc Antony to Henry VIII. For his range and talents, and even as an archetype for 'ol Indiana, we tip our hats to Mr. Heston.

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