(Vanguard Records, 1960)
"Why read the Bible? Rather, why should I read the bible for you? If ever there was a book everyone can read for himself, it's the Holy Bible; in its several English translations alone it's been distributed literally by the billion in the four hundred and some years since it was first printed in that language. It has long been commonly called 'The Good Book'; in many families up through the early years of this century it was the ONLY book. The very word 'bible' derives from the Greek for 'little book.' From the little red-edged editions the Gideons were putting in hotel rooms before I was born to the beautifully illustrated deluxe publications modern colour presses have made possible, the Bible can safely be considered available to everybody." -Charlton Heston
You probably can't see it, but this copy of In the Beginning: Charlton Heston Reads From The Five Books of Moses is personally autographed to me by Chuck, "For Steve, good luck" in the upper left hand corner. Heston was in Nova Scotia in 1991 shooting the Disney TV movie The Little Kidnappers, and as luck would have it, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Coral Sea was in port in Halifax at the same time. Heston couldn't pass up a chance to visit the boys in uniform, and members of the press were invited to join him on his tour of the ship for a photo opportunity. Needless to say, as a reporter at a local radio station, a photo op wasn't a promising news venture, since we were told we wouldn't actually be able to talk to Heston, but I figured I'd make the most of it and see what happened.
I'd found the Heston album a year or two before at a flea market, so I brought it along, and while the press were following ten paces behind while Heston was accompanied by a phalanx of officers--"Look at those magnificent machines," he was heard to say in awe of the airplanes on the deck--but I took the LP out of my kitbag and was able to catch the actor's eye. He started laughing (imagine a stentorian "HA! HA! HA!") and came over, saying "I thought they burned all of these!" and graciously signed the cover for me. I attempted to get him on tape, but the wind on board the carrier was so bad that hardly any of what I asked him about filming in the province and the whereabouts of the full-length director's cut of Major Dundee--okay, my memory on this point is a bit sketchy--was barely discernible.
I was quickly ushered away by the officer in charge of corraling the press, and Heston soon disappeared below decks, but I found myself oddly mesmerized by that stature and that voice. Even though as a feisty punk I found his politics abhorent, and hadn't yet discovered some of his best work in films like Will Penny and Touch of Evil, I suddenly grasped the concept of "presence" and ultimately what it is that makes someone a movie star.
As for the record, it's pretty much what you'd expect, that familiar voice in drawn out cadences, with a swelling orchestra and chorus fading in and out. It's funny to find Heston on a lefty folk label like Vanguard Records, but I guess that's what happens after you part the Red Sea.