Love Letters was performed by Charlton and Lydia Heston at ACT -- 1992

The Charlton Heston connection to Western North Carolina community theater
(noted on the occasion of his death in April of 2008.)

Acquaintances recall Heston’s contributions to
Asheville Community Theatre
by Tony Kiss
(published April 8, 2008, in the Asheville Citizen-Times)

He went on to become an Oscar-winning actor, and one of the most famous names
and faces in Hollywood, but David Bailey remembers Charlton “Chuck” Heston as the
young, energetic director of Asheville Community Theatre.

“I knew he was going places,” said Bailey, who befriended Heston and his wife, Lydia,
while Bailey was working as a reporter and editor at the old Asheville Times
newspaper after World War II.

“They had no money, and they had no car,” Bailey remembered. “I had no car either,
but I would borrow my mother’s car, and give them rides. I found him a great guy.”

Heston, star of such films as “The Ten Commandments,” “Ben Hur” and “Planet of the
Apes,” died Saturday night at 84. He had been out of the public eye in recent years
after disclosing that he had symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Hestons came to Asheville in January 1947, hired to be directors of the then-new
Asheville Community Theatre. They were quickly embraced by the community, as they
directed and performed in such shows as “The Male Animal” and the first amateur
production of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Offered a contract by the theater, the Hestons instead chose to head to New York,
where he quickly found fame on the stage, then in live television and finally in film in

In 1992, the Hestons returned to Asheville to perform the two-character play “Love
Letters,” as a fundraiser for Asheville Community Theatre. The two performances of
“Love Letters” were sold out and the couple were greeted with thunderous applause
and cheers when walking on stage.

“As soon as he got here, there were people wanting autographs, and he was
unfailingly accommodating,” said Ralph Redpath, who was the ACT director during
Heston’s visit. “He said, ‘These are the people who make you a star, you owe them
that.’” In appreciation, the ACT auditorium was named in Heston’s honor.

Heston’s return “really gave a focus to the theater,” said Deborah Austin, who with
Redpath and Kevin McKee, helped arranged Heston’s 1992 return. “It was just a
feather in Asheville’s cap.”

In the photo below, Charlton Heston is seen directing
The Mall Animal at ACT
(in 1947.)  That's Lydia on the right.