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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Heston takes illness in his stride
Charlton Heston
Heston says he is not ready to retire
Actor Charlton Heston has said he is taking the news that he is beginning to show the first signs of Alzheimer's disease in his stride.

The Oscar-winning star said he had not noticed any difference in his health since doctors gave him the shock diagnosis.

Heston was speaking on NBC's Today show about how he has been coping since he announced to the world on 9 August that he was suffering from the disease.

Charlton Heston
Heston won an Oscar for his role in Ben Hur
"I've always been sure of my health and this suddenly gave me something else to think about," he said.

"But maybe it's good if God gives you something to think about every so often."

The 77-year-old also said he was not frightened at the prospect of the illness taking hold.

"Whatever happens happens," he said. "You take it in stride if you can. You don't have many options there."

Heston, an outspoken gun lobbyist, also revealed he had received calls from many wellwishers including US President George Bush.

He said former first lady Nancy Reagan had contacted him with a message of support.

Carrying on

Her husband Ronald, who was the American leader between 1981 and 1989, also suffers from the degenerative brain disease.

Heston has served as president of the National Rifle Association since 1998 and insists he will continue to do so for the immediate future.

He also plans to continue to campaign for both Republican and Democrat candidates.

He has previously said he has no plans to retire from showbusiness.

The screen legend said he had several film projects in the pipeline, including an animated version of Ben Hur, for which he would provide an introduction and narration.

He won an Oscar in 1959 for his performance in the original, and has appeared in more than 100 films during his career.

He has been filming the lead part of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele for the upcoming movie Papa Rua Alguem 5555, and has said he would be involved in another movie project in the autumn.

Heston found fame as an actor starring in such films as El Cid, Planet of the Apes and as Moses in The Ten Commandments.

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