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CHARLTON HESTON TOUCHED BY REACTION TO HIS ALZHEIMER'S NEWS


August 18, 2002
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In his first interview since revealing he suffers the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, legendary actor Charlton Heston says he has been touched by the outpouring of support he’s received, including a personal message from US president George Bush.

“The president wished me well and said he was proud of what I had done for my country,” the actor told the Los Angeles Times Sunday edition. “Which is, perhaps, overstating it a little.”

The 77-year-old Ten Commandments star learned he had symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, which range from memory loss to personality changes, during a routine physical. Rather than wait for rumours to take hold in the press, he decided to address the issue head on with an August 9 videotaped announcement. “It seemed the appropriate thing to do,” he says.

Less than 30 minutes after the news broke, former first lady Nancy Reagan, whose husband Ronald Reagan suffers from the degenerative brain disorder, rang Charlton to tell him and his wife Lydia she’s there if she’s needed. “It was a really nice thing for her to have done,” he says. “She didn’t really need to do that. After all, she’s the president’s wife. But she did.”

The star, who has no plans to retire, has kept a sense of humour about his condition, laughing as he recounts a standout show of support in a letter from a non-show biz friend. “He said, ‘Boy, what a deal. For the first time in my life, the only big shot who remembers my name now says he may forget it.’,” recalls Charlton. “It’s a great line. I’ve been using it every day.”

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Photo: © Alphapress.com
The new interview is the first the actor has given since he revealed in an August 9 televised announcement he is suffering symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease