The classic actor, who died in 2008 at age 84, starred in the groundbreaking first "Planet of the Apes" movie in 1968 as astronaut George Taylor, who lands on a planet where he finds, to his horror, that the apes are in charge and humans are treated like animals.
He also memorably portrayed Moses in the 1956 epic "The Ten Commandments," where he leads the charge to free the Jewish slaves of Egypt and parts the Red Sea. Director Cecil B. DeMille had previously filmed the Biblical epic in 1923. Now, Christian Bale takes on the iconic role in Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings," which opens on December 12 of this year.
Perhaps Heston's best-known role was as Judah Ben-Hur, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar, one of 11 Oscars the 1959 film "Ben-Hur" earned. The story of a prince who becomes a slave, then a celebrated charioteer out for revenge, clearly inspired the 2000 Oscar winner "Gladiator." It's now being remade by "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett, with an eye towards a 2016 release.
Per Variety, "That story focuses on the years prior to those portrayed the 1959 film, centering on the characters Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem, and his childhood friend Messala, who returns home as a commanding officer of the Roman legions and betrays the Ben-Hur family." Burnett, along with actress Roma Downey, also produced the TV miniseries "The Bible." The script is by John Ridley, who just won an Oscar for his Adapted Screenplay of "12 Years a Slave."
Given the faith-based approach of Downey and Burnett, it's unlikely that this prequel will hint at a romance between Ben-Hur and Messala, as was implied in the 1959 script by Gore Vidal. (A subtext that Heston never agreed existed.)
"Ben-Hur" was first filmed in the silent era in 1925, with Ramón Novarro in the title role.
Heston also starred in another classic, oft-remade post-apocalyptic tale, 1971's "The Omega Man," based on the 1954 sci-fi book, "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson. It was previously filmed as "The Last Man on Earth," starring Vincent Price, and then again in 2007 as "I Am Legend," starring Will Smith as the last man alive who must contend with killer mutants.
If you haven't seen these classics starring Heston, do yourself a favor and check them out. And don't forget his lesser-known epic "El Cid," in which he stars as the national hero of Spain. Around 2002, there was some talk of Spanish actor Antonio Banderas starring in a remake, but it never came to pass.