John Charles Carter was born in Evanston, IL in 1923 and would one day transform into the remarkable, historical, and heroic figure movie lovers adore—Charlton Heston. He created his own stage name by taking his mother’s surname, Charlton, as his first name and adopting his stepfather’s last name as his own. Like many fledgling actors, Heston made his film debut in an amateur production, Peer Gynt, after serving in the U.S. military. He made his first Broadway appearance in 1947 in the play Antony and Cleopatra. But movies would continue to draw him near, taking advantage of his resounding deep voice and noble robust stature for epic tales of heroism and history. Heston appeared in unforgettable films, such as The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, which garnered him an Academy Award for best actor. Other notable roles in epic films soon followed: an 11th century Spanish warrior in El Cid, a British general in Khartoum, and an astronaut held captive in one of his best known films, Planet of the Apes. Other film credits included The Awakening, True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Any Given Sunday. Heston was respected for more than just his film and theatrical successes. He was a longtime champion of civil rights, even participating in Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. In 2003, President George W. Bush awarded Heston the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, for his accomplishments in both movies and politics.