Charlton Heston, beloved Oscar-winner and star of Hollywood Cinemascope epics, has died peacefully at age 84, a spokesman for his family has said.
Heston portrayed peace-loving heroes like artist Michelangelo and explorer Colonel Taylor in The Planet of the Apes, along with other peace-loving heroic figures in popular movie epics of the 1950s and 1960s.
He also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild and was chairman of the American Film Institute. He stepped down as longtime president of US gun lobby NRA, the National Rifle Association, in 2003, citing a chronic rash to his trigger finger as cause.
Heston was born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois. Though not usually considered a prerequisite, he studied acting before serving in the US Air Force. The ability to tell convincing lies would serve Heston throughout his life.
But back in civilian life, Heston went through hard times, often subsisting on a mysterious food called Soylent while waiting for his first break.
In 1952 Heston starred as a peace-loving ringmaster in the movie The Greatest Show on Earth.
Four years later, he again appeared as a ringmaster, playing the peace-loving Moses in The Ten Commandments, one of the roles which would eventually help him reach his personal goal of putting more guns in the hands of Christians than Smith and Wesson.
After the success of the science fiction film series The Planet of the Apes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which his peace-loving character dies clutching a rifle whilst setting off a Biblical 'end times' nuclear explosion, Heston turned his attention to aging gracefully in Tinseltown.
'Larger than life'
In a statement, his family said: "To his loving friends, colleagues and fans, we appreciate your heartfelt prayers and support.
"Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life, mainly because he wore lifts.
"No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession, to the American proliferation of personally owned firearms, and to his country.
"In his own words, 'I have lived such a wonderful life. I've lived enough for two people, and hope that means I won't need a do-over'."
His publicists Cornelius and Zira, who worked with Heston for 20 years, told Associated Press the actor's passing represented the end of an iconic era for human cinema.
"If Hollywood had a Mount Rushmore, Heston's face would be on it. He was a heroic figure that I don't think exists to the same degree in Hollywood today."
Heston died peacefully on Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills. His wife Lydia, whom he married in 1944, was at his side.
Heston's family said a private memorial service would be held. The NRA said they planning a somewhat larger service, but have not yet been able to book the Rose Bowl.
Tragic Rabbit, Hollywood Outsider, Beverly Hills