tv Marc Eliot Charlton Heston CSPAN November 19, 2017 10:39pm-11:00pm EST
he didn't win because of jim comey or the russians. he didn't win because of facebook ads. he won this election because americans in the critical states they were kind of tired of being left out and tired of being told one thing in the campaign season and having the governance of another thing thing >> joining us on booktv is biographer mark elliott who's written about how icon charles heston talking to him on booktv about politics, when did he become political?
>> he was political most of his life and part of the greatest generation. he saw action during world war ii off the coast of alaska. he was one of several mission trained as a radio man and enlisted after pearl harbor. it took about a year to call him up and just before he left, he married his wife and they were married for the next 65 years. they were about to invade japan for the final big push into the estimate is that it would move to a million men. so, when th bombs were dropped n hiroshima and nagasaki, he was
overjoyed and even though there was a very controversial move more so as the years went by, that kind of cemented the political point of view for the greatest generation of men and women, there was a very clear delineation between right and wrong and between good and bad. all of those wit this with axiss were the bad guys. all of that kind of black-and-white definition, all of that fed into the acting
career. it was part of a hero mission. when the war ended, he was a huge supporter of the fdr and then of course when fdr died and truman became president, huge supporter mostly because of the dropping of the bombs. he and adlai stevenson supporter, i know a lot of people think there's a lot more to his story. he actively campaigned for adlai stevenson in 1952. stevenson was running against eisenhower so that is part of
the individual thought, where even though eisenhower was a war hero and celebrated, he believed that stevenson was more on the same level as roosevelt as the real roosevelt liberal, and eisenhower might have been a touch too militaristic for his taste. in 1956 he supported adlai stevenson again a losing proposition that between 1956 and 1960, charlton heston became a major hollywood star come in fact the biggest star of the 50s and hollywood. he supported john kennedy in the
convention he supported jfk. jfk of course won the nomination, and he went out and actively campaigned for kennedy. there was no ambivalence about who he supported and who he wanted in office. in 1964, something changed and he felt first of all everybody that supported jfk was in shell shock after the assassination. johnson's sudden rise isn't what they have in mind, so a lot of
them either dropped out of politics for a while and waited for the tide to turn. heston decided that goldwater was somebody that he likes and he could support. the reason for it was the goldwater campaign. somehow the designated with heston. he first assault that on a billboard through arizona. he'he saw that and thought thats right. then of course at the time vietnam was just beginning in the great leap backwards into vietnam. so he voted for goldwater, lost
again. his only victory was kennedy and then something happened to cement that shift. in 1968, heston decided he wanted to go to vietnam and beats the troops. this wasn't a popular war. younger people today want to throw out the first baseball and all that. that isn't the way that it was in 1968. there was a huge counterculture movement that climaxed that year with the student protest, the anti-charms in assassination, bobby kennedy, so there was a lot of unrest and that behavior was directed not just the words
nixon and the viet me as more and johnson and the soldiers that were fighting, that drove him crazy. while other main performers like bob hope were going over there and not really putting themselves in danger with a major network and making money off it. there's nothing wrong with that. they did a good service. he sacrificed a lot for this christmas is, things like that. he is a good guy. he worked his way to the front and met with only soldiers. no performing.
he took all their names and phone numbers and promised when he got home he would call and he did come he came home and called to each and every one of them. at the same time when he came back. he felt it was focused on the soldiers. the last shred of his leaning was torn up and threw it out. he felt he didn't support the men fighting for the country and the freedom, there's something wrong with you. and of course the counterculture
movement was all leftist liberal kids who were anti-vietnam, and that quickly spread to anti-americanism. i was at columbia during the height of all of this. when he came back he was firmly to the rise in defense of what he felt was democracy. remember is war was clearly delineated between right and wrong. the people he thought were the heroes were being vilified as evil then the influence of ronald reagan.
reagan was a liberal in the 40s. the president of the screen actors guild and 40s less so today as a kind of liberal organization as the organization and he actually saved hollywood firm splintering but that is another story. he put them on the board and he had access. then when reagan retired because he became a producer at the theater and you can't be a producer. there was another president in
between, and then he became the president of the screen actors guild and what he did this worked diligently to reverse the little draft or direction of the screen actors guild. in the six years that he led thd the screen actors guild which was the longest from the continuous presidency of the guild, he in fact did move it to the right and as an example, the screen extra skilled physician must be are all actors. heston was against it and said if we bring you in coming you
will dilute our ability to get work for our actors. that was very controversial because the union president talking out the union members from the possibility of getting work. secondly, he worked out a deal to avoid a strike. very few people thought that this was the right thing to do to get a better deal up front. he was at the helm of the deal and it ultimately cost him his presidency because it was felt that he was too far to do rightt by his constituency to truly
represent. so after that as his career went on, that's lasting power of as they got older, the interesting thing he was never a romantic figure on the screen where there was a woman in love with him, he wasn't rock hudson. as it became less frequent, he was approached by the nra. in the early to mid 80s, he was almost bankrupt. they had no following.
he was the head of the pr organization but they had already hired to find somebody. he then made a deal with him and said we will give you a private plane and th at the best hotel rooms in the world. we will bring you back if you will be our spokesman. he eventually became the head of the nra so just as the president of the screen actors guild, now he was the president of the nra. so his political journey continued all the way back to the nra.
that would bring 5,000 people that are not really members. the meeting they had took place after columbine and everyone told heston don't go to that meeting it was only about 30 miles from where it took place. let it cool down. my beliefs do not depend upon what happens outside. i still believe in the first amendment rights. he went and did that meeting and that cost him 11 years of blacklisting in hollywood. what is interesting and ironic
about that. they grew up to the left and blacklisted all the people to the right the parents they saw as having something awful and they wound up doing the same thing but when the left does it, there is a certain nobility. when the right does it there is a certain implication of evil and i find that fascinating. what i have written in my biography is a journey of heston
as a filmmaker in a store. let me say one more thing to you. after a year of working on this but i approached the family. i thought they will be paranoid about anyone that wants to write about their dad because they will all be michael moore with a pencil. but i approached the son who was a producer in hollywood and he said to me what is your plan, what is your agenda and i said i have no agenda. i am interested in film and the link between the actor and the movie, the movie and the actor
and the story behind people who become so much larger than life. he said i have read a few of your books. i get it and i'm going to open up everything we have to you and that is this book without editorial control that is what made the book so spectacular for me as a writer. >> you have been listening to marc elliott, charlton heston. there's a lot more and more about he told in this biography. you are watching c-span2.