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Controversial Charlton Heston USPS Stamp Not Yet a Done Deal

Charlton Heston Stamp - P 2014
USPS
The proposed Charlton Heston stamp

A leaked document says the polarizing actor-activist along with some music, sports and political icons will each be featured on their own stamps, but a Postal Service spokesman says it's too early to say for sure.

The U.S. Postal Service said that despite reports to the contrary, a postage stamp featuring an image of actor and NRA activist Charlton Heston has not been approved yet, nor have others with images of pop icons, such as rockers Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, or NBA great Wilt Chamberlain.

Those names and more, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and slain gay activist and politician Harvey Milk, were leaked via "confidential document" to the Washington Post, according to Roy Betts, a spokesman for the Postal Service.

The document was not meant for publication, nor have final decisions been made, Betts said. While the document contained recommendations from the 15 members of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, its selections are not final until other steps are taken, including legal reviews and consumer input.

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Fans have been lobbying for a Heston stamp ever since his former publicist, Michael Levine, gathered supporters at the actor's star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood to announce an organized campaign.

If approved, the already-designed Heston stamp will become part of the Postal Service's "Legends of Hollywood" series, a group of stamps that already includes John Wayne, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland.

While the star of The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and the original Planet of the Apes no doubt qualifies as a Hollywood legend and has devoted fans long after his death in 2008, Heston's advocacy for Second Amendment rights and his stewardship of the NRA from 1998-2003 has made him a pariah in some liberal circles.

In the movie Bowling for Columbine, for example, Michael Moore implied that Heston was complicit in a high school massacre because of his advocacy against gun control. More recently, Jim Carrey crooned in a Funny or Die video that because Heston was pro-gun "his immortal soul may lay forever in the sand; the angels wouldn't take him up to Heaven like he planned."

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There is a precedent, says Betts, for a stamp to come far in the approval process but still fail to come to fruition. Last year, for example, a "Just Move" series featuring kids at play and allegedly championed by Michelle Obama was halted at the last moment over concerns that three of them promoted unsafe behavior: skateboarding without kneepads, doing a handstand without a helmet and cannon-balling into a swimming pool.

While the leaked list of 2014 stamps has prompted discussion, Betts says that no one has voiced any specific complaints directly to the Postal Service about any of the proposed stamps, and in the case of the Heston stamp, an image of its approved design is already at the agency's blog. The stamp is called "Charlton Heston Forever" and is set for release in April, according to the blog.

Nevertheless, Betts said the Postal Service will take into account various feedback before a final decision is made about Heston's and the other stamps, including tweets, opinions expressed in the news media and comments left at the USPS Facebook page, where some detractors and supporters have already weighed in. "Maybe show a gun clutched to his dead cold hand, as he wished," one person wrote. "I do not agree with his NRA days at all, but that's neither here nor there," countered another.

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And ever since Levine launched his campaign nearly four years ago, conservatives have been penning essays of praise for Heston in preparation of the stamp-approval process, some noting he was a World War II veteran, others noting his advocacy against violent rap songs and his support of Martin Luther King Jr. before it was the popular course of action in Hollywood.

"It's great there's a lot of passion for this year's subjects, but I would say, 'stay tuned,' because subjects can still change," Betts said. "But the expectation is that the Heston stamp will be issued."

Another stamp set for 2014, according to the leaked document, is an image of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress. Stamps in the mix for 2015 include ones with images of Johnny Carson, James Brown, Steve Jobs, Ingrid Bergman and the Peanuts gang.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com