Here’s a fun piece of movie trivia: in the 1956 biblical epic The Ten Commandments, the role of baby Moses was played by Fraser Heston, the son of Charlton Heston, who starred as the adult Moses.
As Fraser tells it, director Cecil B. DeMille cast him before he was actually born.
“[DeMille] heard my mom was pregnant and said, ‘Well, if it’s a baby boy, he can play the part of Moses,’” Fraser told the The New York Post in 2020. “When I was born, the first telegram she got said, ‘Congratulations, he’s got the part. Love, C.B.’”
Baby Moses appears early in the film, when his mother sends him down the Nile in a basket, hoping to save him from an order by the Pharaoh to kill Hebrew newborns.
Fraser was three months old during the filming. He says that his introduction to the movie business was not without its perils.
“Obviously, my memory is a little sketchy,” he told the Post. “But I do remember my dad telling me that when they put me in the basket on the backlot of Paramount — the tank set is still there — the basket began to leak. The basket began to sink, and dad went to lift me out — and I was floating in four inches of water, perfectly happy. And the social worker who is by mandate on the set for all children grabbed me and said, “No, Mr. Heston, I’m the only one who can attend to this child during the filming.” He looked at her and said, with the voice he used on the pharaoh [Yul Brynner, in the film], “Give me that child!” And not surprisingly, she did. (laughs) When you get the voice of Moses — I used to call it the dark, gray voice — all he had to do was use that on us kids and we’d do anything he said.”
As an adult Fraser Heston worked in the movie business as a producer, director and writer. But his most lasting contribution to cinema remains, inevitably, his role in a film that has become an enduring tradition and whose airing on television is a sure sign of the holiday season.
“It’s the quintessential epic,” Fraser Heston said in a 2020 interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, promoting a Blu-ray reissue of the film. “When you think spectacle, you think C.B. DeMille. When you think epic, you think The Ten Commandments. It’s a great story, isn’t it?”