Rocket Man’s tribute to Charlton

Rocket Man’s tribute to Charlton Heston puts me in mind of Mrs. Trunk’s and my own encounter with him in 1994. That year Heston devoted himself to campaigning and raising money for Republican candidates across the country. He was incredibly efffective. He eloquently spoke for many of us who were outraged by the destructive leftist animus of the Clinton adminstration’s first two years. (The remaining six years we were outraged by other aspects of the Clinton administration.) Heston came to Minneapolis to raise money for Rod Grams, who was running against Democrat Ann Wynia for the Senate seat being vacated by Dave Durenberger. Wynia was a remarkably weak candidate, although Rod was also relatively unknown and not particularly strong either.
Heston proved a large draw at a terrific fundraiser for Rod a few weeks before the election. We had our picture taken with him and attended the dinner at which he spoke. Rod led in the race all summer, but we were all a little nervous about Rod’s holding on to win. In his speech Heston told a story about Ben-Hur that I believe he also tells in his autobiography, In the Arena. He recalled how when he was preparing to film Ben-Hur he traveled to Italy and practiced intensely for the unforgettable chariot race scene. He peppered William Wyler, the film’s director, with detailed questions about the scene and quickly exhausted Wyler’s patience. Wyler exploded at him, “Chuck, you’re going to win the damned race, just don’t fall out of the chariot!” That was also Heston’s advice for Rod that night, and of course he was right.


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