Despite Charlton Heston’s dramatic announcement in a videotape released Friday that he has symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, spokesmen say the actor and National Rifle Association president plans to keep working, especially for political causes. ”For now, I’m not changing anything,” Heston said in the video. ”I’ll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. I’m neither giving up nor giving in.”
Heston’s spokesman tells the Hollywood Reporter that the symptoms, which are consistent with Alzheimer’s, were diagnosed ”just in the last few days.” The NRA, of which Heston is serving his fifth one-year term as president, told the Reporter that the 78-year-old plans to finish out his term, which ends in April. Meantime, the actor’s spokesman said, he’ll be politicking throughout ”a very ambitious campaign schedule this fall,” as well as negotiating for a role in a movie the spokesman declined to name.
Best known for heroic movie roles in such films as ”The Ten Commandments” (as Moses) and the original ”Planet of the Apes,” Heston was seen on screen last year in ”Town & Country” and in Tim Burton’s ”Apes” remake, where he tweaked his old role by playing a belligerent old chimp. (He also did voice work as a mastiff in ”Cats & Dogs.”) He’s said to be working on an animated version of ”Ben-Hur,” the movie that won him a Best Actor Oscar in 1959.
Although known recently as a conservative activist, Heston also has a history of support for John F. Kennedy and the civil rights movement, including participating in Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington. He invoked that history in Friday’s video statement, saying, ”I believe I’m still the fighter that Dr. King and JFK and Ronald Reagan knew, but it’s a fight I must someday call a draw. I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measures. Please feel no sympathy for me.” Nancy Reagan, whose husband made a similar statement announcing his own Alzheimer’s status before retiring from public life a decade ago, issued her own statement Friday, saying, ”Our family knows all too well the cruelty of this disease, and we pray that God will give the Heston family… the strength to face each day that lies ahead.”