Rare Shakespeare folios among Heston ‘joie de vivre’ memorabilia on the block


An auction of Charlton Heston’s personal effects reveals the Oscar-winning actor to be a fastidious collector of movie memorabilia and an ardent William Shakespeare fan who bought up numerous rare scripts.

Bonham’s is due to auction 300 items next week from the Beverly Hills home Heston shared with his wife, Lydia Clarke, for more than half a century, including props, scripts, fine art, jewelry and rare books.

In the collection are a number of rare copies of Shakespeare plays kept in Heston’s two story library, including late 17th century “Macbeth” and “Hamlet” scripts expected to go for up to $35,000 (€31,000) and $25,000, respectively.

The collection also features original leaves from the first four collected editions of Shakespeare’s works, known as “folios.”

“We think Heston’s many fans will enjoy getting a glimpse into the man behind the myth,” the auction house’s entertainment memorabilia director, Catherine Williamson, said in a statement sent to AFP on Thursday.

Heston, who died in 2008, is best known for his starring roles in iconic films of Hollywood’s golden age, including “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben-Hur” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

But he also appeared in many of the Bard’s plays, making his Broadway debut in “Antony and Cleopatra” in 1947 and going on to star in the film version as well as two big screen productions of “Julius Caesar” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet.”

The actor started out doing low budget film and television until director Cecil B. DeMille cast him as a circus manager in “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1952.

His breakout role came in 1956 when DeMille hired him to play Moses in “The Ten Commandments” and he went on to win a best actor Oscar for “Ben-Hur.”

His trove of memorabilia includes a director’s chair with his name on it, frescoes from the set of “The Ten Commandments” and his script for “Ben-Hur,” valued at up to $18,000.

The auction also features photo portraits of Heston by his wife, who is now 92, and other works by famed photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Tice.

A famous gun advocate, the actor’s personal effects include a personalized National Rifle Association seal and a 14-karat gold Screen Actors Guild membership card.

“Their fascinating and varied collections reflect not so much a love of things but a joie de vivre, a passion for life and everything in it,” said the couple’s son, Fraser C. Heston.

The Charlton Heston Collection, presented by Bonhams and the Turner Classic Movies television network, goes under the hammer in Los Angeles on Tuesday.