Just 27 years in the making!
Well let’s be honest. Epic in my world and hopefully a fun read for those of you who have stopped by to see just how the legendary actor fits into my version of a Heston Epic.
I did say it was 27 years in the making but let’s go back just a bit further to set the scene. When you’re a little tyke growing up in the 1970’s, Charlton Heston, was instantly recognizable to a young boy thanks in large part to the fact that he journeyed to The Planet of The Apes. Not only that but he was The Omega Man, Moses, Ben-Hur, fought the Marabunta in The Naked Jungle and was an all around screen hero to this buck toothed kid. Couple that with the fact that Mom took me to see him save multiple lives in an Earthquake on the big screen in 1974 and soon afterwards paid for our tickets to see him lowered into the cockpit of an airplane high in the sky once again saving lives in Airport ’75.
Yeah this guy was more than just Moses, he was a movie hero with a capital H.
Fast forward to 1995 and yours truly is all grown up and a married man. With the home video age upon us I’ve amassed most all of his movies on tape and own a number of original movie posters featuring his image. Heston is mostly playing cameo roles by this point and releases his autobiography, In the Arena. I remember the book was in the press prior to it’s release because if memory serves, Heston, was holding some kind of competition to give his book a name.
Whoever came up with, In the Arena, I felt scored a bullseye.
The book hits the market and I immediately grab my copy. Sometime shortly afterwards I see that Heston is going to be in Toronto at what was then called “The World’s Biggest Bookstore” signing copies. For the record it was one hell of a large sized store that I visited often on trips into the big city. Sadly it’s no longer there. No I didn’t make in to Toronto to meet Mr. Heston and I’ve regretted not going to this day. I believe I learned of his visit the morning of his appearance just as I was leaving work after putting in 8 hours on the graveyard shift at a local factory I was employed at. I do remember catching the nightly news and there was Heston greeting the fans.
Damn! Should have been me shaking his hand on TV and telling him he was the coolest man to ever walk planet earth when you’re a kid of the 70’s.
Now here we are in 2022 and my Heston journey comes back to life taking a turn for what I thought to be the worst thanks to my best buddy, Brando the Wiener Dog. I was doing some research for a piece on a Heston film and made the mistake of leaving my Heston bio on the floor alongside my bed. No the dog didn’t chew it up but you see, Wiener Dogs, are commonly known to be obsessed with squeaky toys and in this case a blue ball that he loves to push into odd spots and then dig it back out. It would appear as if he somehow wedged the ball between my book and a floor level bedrail. End result is the book’s jacket was the victim of some heavy damage.
My fault and I had to take it in stride. Not like I can stay mad at the little guy even when he is at fault around the place. One look into those eyes and I’m sharing my dish of ice cream all over again. Thankfully I’ve seen the Heston book during my many ventures into second hand shops. I’ll just keep my eyes open and pick up another copy knowing they don’t sell for much more than a 5 dollar bill.
And so comes the day when my wife and I are rummaging about an antique mall when she points out the Heston bio high up on a shelf out of her reach. A tip toed stretch and I bring it down to inspect the jacket cover. Looks fine. It’ll do.
I open the cover and there’s the price tag. Just as I suspected. A $4.00 purchase and a steal at that after discovering what lay in wait on the title page. I may have missed out on meeting Mr. Heston 27 years ago but the one thing I do have now in my possession all these years later is a signed edition of In the Arena. And so ends my “Epic Adventure” over a quarter of a century later costarring alongside Charlton Heston.
And just think, I have a scene stealing cameo by Brando The Wiener Dog to thank for it.
My favorite sci-fi star of the 70s. He also had one the greatest looking signatures. I have one in my own collection.
Sure puts my signature to shame. Thanks for stopping in Mike.
What a neat story Mike, a cool memory to always cherish. My folks and I actually had a signed copy of Christopher Plummer’s autobiography for a little while, but we either sold it when we moved from Philly to New Jersey, or it’s somewhere in storage.
I have Plummer’s book but not a signed one. Saw him twice on stage. Once in Stratford and the other in Toronto when he toured as John Barrymore in the one man show. A real treat.
I read Chuck’s book when it came out but I’ve no idea where my (unsigned) copy got to. Remember being knocked out by Planet of the Apes, first Heston film I saw then caught up with Ben Hur and El Cid on reissue. A great star.
I’d liked to have seen those films on the bog screen when first released. I have seen the Apes in a retro theater though.
I’m sure I saw El cid on a double – that would have been some programme. Ben Hur was in 70mm. But films like The Omega Man. Soylent Green and Earthquake I saw on the big screen when they first came out. Ten Commandments was also a reissue.
Some great memories there I’m sure. Ten Commandments was a big event once a year in our household when it aired over Easter weekend on TV. “Let it be written, let it be done”
Easter was the time for sure. Over here Easter Monday was a big holiday most notable for television showing something like The Great Escape or The Magnificent Seven.
What a great story, and an even greater score! Too bad that’s Pamela Hensley’s autograph inside that book (just kidding, of course). I had the same thing happen to me when I bought an old Johnny Bench autobiography…inside I found a newspaper clipping and small program that he’d signed, from a beauty pageant he was MCing. Makes you wonder if these places – used book stores, thrift shops – ever flip through these books they’re selling, to make sure they’re not worth more than $4.
And like you, I grew up with Charlton Heston movies…basically all those you mentioned from the early-’70s I saw and loved as a kid. Especially ‘The Omega Man’, which I still have a great time with.
I found a bio of Stewart Granger that was also signed a few years ago. Omega Man a classic. I do believe Earthquake was my intro to Chuck on the big screen. Later I saw The Mountain Men as well before he kind of called it a day as a leading man.
Great article. I love Chuck. I am reading IN THE ARENA, Reread his DAIRIES recently. I am a 60’s guy and he was the coolest dude then too. When I was six my parents took me to EL CID. My sis year old brain was gobsmacked. Thern in ’65 whent was ten, my dad toopk me to see MAJOR DUNDEE, then KHARTOUM the next year. Heston was a god. I think he took me to WILL PENNY, but I am unsure. After we went to THE HAWAIIANS and SKJACKED. After that I started going to the movies by myself and my first solo Heston was SOYLENT GREEN which made an enormous impression on me.
Some real cool memories there from the 60’s when he was riding high. Of course I’ve seen them all but not on the big screen. You didn’t mention Planet of the Apes. Did you get to see that on first release?
if that ain’t the greatest Heston Cameo ever! Wow great score, loved the whole story and the walk down memory lane–boy do I miss the World’s Biggest Bookstore.
I know I spent a fair amount of cash at that bookstore and it was always on my to do list when I went to Toronto whenever possible. I can picture it in my mind as if it were yesterday. Also loved checking out the used bookstore that was parked right next to it which on my last visit pre-pandemic was still in business. Heston rules! 🙂