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Actor Charlton Heston Suffering from Symptoms of Alzheimer's - 2002-08-09

Actor Charlton Heston, a prominent figure in conservative politics, has announced he is suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Heston said in a taped statement Friday that doctors recently diagnosed his symptoms as consistent with the fatal neurological disease. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, which gradually robs those afflicted of their memory.

The 78-year-old Oscar-winning actor is best known for his roles in such Hollywood epics as The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.

Mr. Heston has also long been active in politics, first as a liberal involved in the civil rights movement. Over the decades he grew more conservative, and, as the current president of the National Rifle Association, he is the country's leading advocate of gun ownership.

Mr. Heston backed his friend and fellow actor Ronald Reagan in his successful bid for the White House. The former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994.

Mr. Reagan's wife, Nancy, said she was extremely sad to hear of Mr. Heston's diagnosis, but applauded his decision make it public.