Charlton Heston rare Shakespeare collection going on sale this month
Charlton Heston: rare book collector? The actor is perhaps best known for growling “take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape,” not for a love of Shakespeare. And yet, now that items from the iconic actor’s estate is going on sale later this month, some fascinating literary artifacts stick out amid the Hollywood and NRA memorabilia. Heston had a sizable Shakespeare collection that included leaves from the first four folios of collected Shakespeare works, which will be included in an auction of Heston’s collection by Bonhams in L.A. on March 22. The rarest among them, a 1673 edition of Macbeth and a 1676 version of Hamlet, could be worth more than $20,000 each. Although these are far from the only extant copies of such editions, such prizes rarely go on sale.
Although Heston was best known for roles in Hollywood movies like Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Planet of the Apes, he made his Broadway debut doing Antony and Cleopatra, and once said “the great roles are always Shakespearean.”
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“You are more likely to find fine paintings, fine furniture, and jewelry in a celebrity estate,” Catherine Williamson, director of fine books and manuscripts and entertainment memorabilia at Bonhams in Los Angeles, told The Guardian. “So it was unusual to find these early Shakespeare imprints. However, when you realize that Heston started his career as a Shakespearean actor and really always felt a connection to Shakespeare, and thought of himself first and foremost as a Shakespearean actor, then it does make sense.”
Shakespeare folios aren’t the only literary prizes among the Heston auction. Heston’s rare copy of Ernest Hemingway’s short story collection In Our Time is also on sale, valued between $25,000 and $35,000.