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Hollywood legend Charlton Heston dead at 84

  • Story Highlights
  • Heston was suffering the late stages of Alzheimer's disease
  • Heston's wife of 64 years, Lydia, was by his side at the time of his death
  • The family said it would hold a private memorial service
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actor Charlton Heston died at his Beverly Hills home at the age of 84 Saturday, his family said.

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Heston was suffering the late stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Heston, known for portrayals of larger than life figure including Moses and Ben Hur, was suffering the late stages of Alzheimer's disease.

Heston's wife of 64 years, Lydia, was at his side at the time of his death, according to the family statement.

Heston is survived by a son, a daughter and three grandchildren.

"We knew him as an adoring husband, a kind and devoted father, and a gentle grandfather, with an infectious sense of humor," the family said. "He served these far greater roles with tremendous faith, courage and dignity. He loved deeply, and he was deeply loved."

While no funeral plans have been announced, the family said it would hold a private memorial service.

The Internet Movie Database listed 126 movies and television production credits for Heston, starting in 1941. He rose to fame in the 1950s with starring movie roles including Ben Hur, for which he won an Oscar. He played Moses in the "Ten Commandments."

Heston's last acting credit was for playing an elderly Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz Nazi surgeon who performed medical experiments on concentration camp refugees during World War Two in the 2003 movie "My Father, Rua Alguem 5555."

Heston was also known for his political activism.

He was a high-profile supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights movement. He attended King's 1963 March on Washington and stood near the podium as King delivered his "I have a dream" speech.

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He was president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2002, a role that cast him as a conservative.

Heston was born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois, on October. 4, 1924. He took the surname Heston after his mother divorced and remarried when he was 10. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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