Queen’s Park Ont.
Charlton Heston was in town recently, promoting his autobiography In the Arena. Charlton and I, you may not be aware, go back a long way and I was quite disturbed to find that Charlton hadn’t even let me know that he was coming.
Charlton is openly pro-life. He is one of the rare super-celebrities to be in our camp. (Another pro-life film star is Jack Nicholson—who only found out when he was 38 that his “sister” was really his mother. Jack dead set against abortion.)
Charlton Heston did the powerful introduction to the short pro-life documentary Eclipse of Reason made some years ago. Whenever excerpts of it are shown on television—they make darn sure they don’t show Charlton denouncing the killing of millions of innocent babies worldwide with his magnetic, melodious bass voice.
I high-tailed it down to The World’s Biggest Bookstore to see Charlton. There was a tightly packed crowd inside circling a desk at the front where Charlton was busy signing autographs. Media cameramen were all over the place and professional and amateur photographers were taking pictures constantly. Charlton hardly had a chance to look up.
I hurried to what I thought was the beginning of the lineup only to discover a huge lineup in front of me that started almost a taxi cab ride away in a remote corner of the store. I was told to pick up Heston’s book in advance for autographing and I did. Panting excitedly, I finally arrived at the beginning joining about 800 people lined up single file. While I was standing there a young man joined me in the lineup holding two books. I looked at him—he seemed preoccupied.
“Where’s your book?” I asked him. “This is a lineup for Charlton Heston’s biography-signing.”
“Who’s Charlton Heston?” he said. “I thought this was the lineup to pay for these books.” Everybody who heard him laughed. I pointed out an almost deserted checkout cash register and he went there.
There was an attractive looking girl in front of me in the lineup who couldn’t have been more than 22 and I commented on the fact that she was one of the youngest in the lineup. She agreed and wondered aloud why more young people weren’t there. Then I thought of the $40 price (including taxes) I paid for the book and thought maybe that’s why.
She was an enthusiastic fan of Charlton Heston. Obviously no Mel Gibson for her. I was going to tell her that I was buying a book from my long time friend Charlton because he was pro-life but I thought she might be pro-abortion and it would kill the sale. She was going to ask him all kinds of questions and was almost delirious at the thought of meeting him.
About 45 minutes later, I finally stood in front of my old friend Charlton. The attractive girl, after getting her book autographed had stood there transfixed, looking at Charlton fondly. She never said a word and had to be led away, mouth wide open.
“Poor thing,” I mused, “can’t stand meeting a celebrity.”
I offered Charlton a small pro-life badge. He seemed surprised and smiled politely and took it and thanked me.
He started to autograph my book when I said: “My favourite role of yours in any film you’ve ever made is Eclipse of Reason.”
Charlton stood up laughing uproariously. He must have thought it was funny that a guy would stand in line for 45 minutes to get his autographed biography and he’s not complimenting him for Ben Hur but for an insignificant pro-life documentary done years ago and seen only by a minuscule number of people.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by being in the presence of Charlton Heston—my long time hero. I lost my cool.
“Charlton! Charlton! Don’t you remember me? I’ve sat through Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments thousands of times. Don’t you remember me? I’m the little guy in the middle of the front row!”
When I tried to reach out to embrace Charlton the police stepped in and took me down to the police station—a cracked-up mess. When the police informed my wife what had happened, she told them politely: “I knew he was crazy about Charlton Heston but I didn’t know he was crazy.”