Oscar-winning actor and Hollywood star Charlton Heston died Saturday at his home in Beverly Hills California. He was aged 84. Heston, who won best actor Oscar for his starring role in the epic Ben Hur in 1959, died with his wife Lydia, whom he married in 1944, by his side. Heston, who has become better known in recent years as a United States gun lobbyist, also portrayed Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the 1950s and 1960s. He finally retired as president of the gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), in 2003, for reasons of ill-health. In 2002, it was discovered that Heston was suffering from symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease.The actor was best known for roles such as the prophet Moses in Cecil B DeMille's 1956 Biblical extravaganza The Ten Commandments, raising a rod over his head as God miraculously parts the Red Sea.Heston won the Academy Award for best actor in another religious epic, 1959's Ben-Hur, racing four white horses at top speed in the legendary 15-minute chariot race. In August 2002, Heston made an emotional videotaped address announcing his illness. Late in life, Heston's role as a gun lobbyist overshadowed his acting, and he became president of the National Rifle Association in 1998. His stance earned him the ire of liberal Hollywood, but he was defiant. He answered his critics in a pose that mimicked Moses' parting of the Red Sea. But instead of a rod, Heston raised a flintlock over his head and challenged his detractors to pry the rifle 'from my cold, dead hands.' Born John Charles Carter in Evanston, Illinois, he studied acting before serving for three years in the US air force. He went through hard times back in civilian life while awaiting his first break.In 1952, after working on Broadway, Heston starred as the ringmaster in the movie The Greatest Show on Earth.Four years later, came his signature role, Moses in The Ten Commandments. After the success of the science fiction film Planet of the Apes in the late 1960s, he went on to work once more in theatre. He also found television success in the 1980s shows Dynasty and The Colbys. Although he came to be known for conservative causes, in his earlier life he had been a supporter of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, according to the BBC. In a statement, released by his family, "Charlton Heston was seen by the world as larger than life. No one could ask for a fuller life than his. No man could have given more to his family, to his profession and to his country. In his own words,'I have lived such a wonderful life. I've lived enough for two people'." Heston's family said a private memorial service would be held.