SAG Mourns Death of Charlton Heston

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SAG Mourns Death of Charlton Heston

Los Angeles (April 6, 2008) -- Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg released the following statement today:

"Screen Actors Guild mourns the loss of former SAG president Charlton Heston, who died Saturday. He was an actor of astonishing talent, a capable and visionary union leader and, above all, a man of dignity and grace.

"He will be missed by many people across the world, but by none more so than the members and staff of Screen Actors Guild who were honored to have served with him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lydia and his family."

Heston was the Guild’s 16th president, serving in the position from 1965-1971. He was an active member since receiving his SAG card in 1950.

Charlton Heston Bio
He's played roles so famous they scarcely need mention: Moses in The Ten Commandments" (1956), Judah Ben-Hur in Ben Hur (1959) for which he received an Academy Award; the Italian sculptor and painter Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965); Colonel Taylor in The Planet of the Apes (1968). Heston first joined the Board of Directors as a replacement for James Whitmore in January, 1960-just before the commencement of the Guild's third strike. The 1960 strike resulted in the creation of the Guild's Pension & Welfare Plan, but disappointed many as it failed to win residuals for theatrical films sold to television dating back to 1948. Heston was elected to the board in November 1960, and elected 3rd Vice-President in 1961. From 1962 - 1965, he served 1-year terms as 2nd VP and in November 1965 was elected to his first of six 1-year terms as Guild President.

During the six years of his Presidency, Heston visited Vietnam with the USO, attended labor conventions, hosted meetings, and participated in contract negotiations. But perhaps his greatest challenge was Runaway Production, which had been a cyclical problem since the late 1940's, and even Runaway Commercials (filmed in foreign countries for American products for the American market). In April 1968, Heston flew to Washington to meet with a group of key film company executives, and California senators Tom Kuchel and George Murphy (former Screen Actors Guild president), to examine possible solutions for Runaway. Heston supported Senate Bill 393, which California Governor Ronald Reagan (yes, another former Guild president), signed into law in 1968. SB 393 eliminated a discriminatory tax on the value of movie industry "intangibles." As Heston described it, this tax on "... all the scripts, unfinished films, and completed negatives [production companies] possess as of each March first is to smother the industry for at least three months out of every year." At the end of 1969, Heston testified before Congress in support of subscription or Pay-TV, which he believed would not only create more domestic production, but increase the quality of the programming, stating "...it will give the public the choice of better entertainment, culture and education in the home far beyond what is possible today with television supported solely by advertising." In 1970, the Guild made changes to its collective bargaining agreement, popularly dubbed the "Comeback Contract" to encourage more domestic and Hollywood production.

As he concluded his final term as president, he presented the Guild with a new gavel, handing it to incoming president, John Gavin. It reads: "For the Guild's President: To use with all the moderation you find possible, all the wisdom you possess, and all the justice you can discern. Chuck Heston, 1971."