Fraser Heston can’t even remember his first — and only — acting role, but that’s because he was only 3 months old at the time.
Fraser, now 65, portrayed the baby Moses — who, in the Bible, escapes death when he is set afloat down the Nile River in a basket — in the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments,” which starred his father, Charlton Heston, as the adult prophet. Fraser credits the film’s legendary director, Cecil B. DeMille, with casting him while he was still in utero.
“He heard my mom was pregnant and said, ‘Well, if it’s a baby boy, he can play the part of Moses,’” Fraser tells The Post. “When I was born, the first telegram she got said, ‘Congratulations, he’s got the part. Love, C.B.’ I still have that telegram somewhere.”
“The Ten Commandments,” a perennial Easter classic, is available via streaming and as a new Blu-ray release from Paramount Home Entertainment that includes a behind-the-scenes commemorative “digibook.”
The senior Heston, who won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the 1959 film “Ben-Hur,” starred in more than 100 television shows and movies, including the film “Planet of the Apes” (1968) and its 1970 sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” the 1967 drama “Will Penny” and the 1985 primetime soap opera “The Colbys.” (He also did a cameo as himself in a 1998 episode of the NBC sitcom “Friends.”)
Fraser lives in Los Angeles with his wife, public relations and communications executive Marilyn Heston, and their filmmaker son Jack, 28, and is a longtime director and producer. He recently spoke with The Post by phone about his dad’s faith, legacy and the least-favorite film he did.
Did your father ever share any on-set anecdotes about working on “The Ten Commandments” that stuck with you?
Obviously, my memory is a little sketchy, 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. (laughs)
How religious was your father?
I think a lot of his faith actually came from making films like “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben-Hur” because he did a great deal of research. He went back and reread all five books of Moses and did a lot of research with DeMille’s people, who gave him material. He became quite fascinated with — and obviously famous for — biblical ethics. As a consequence, I think it deepened his faith. I’d say his faith came from within. It didn’t come from hearing a sermon, which is how most of us get it.
Did your father have a favorite actor or director to work with?
He was always very circumspect about that because he said if he named an actor or actress, he would make one friend and a dozen enemies. (laughs) If you asked him what his favorite film was, he would probably say, “The next one.” He loved working with actors, but he didn’t suffer any sort of on-set shenanigans or tardiness well at all. He was not happy with Sophia Loren for arriving on the set late almost on a regular basis [during the filming of 1961’s “El Cid”], but he loved her work.
‘I’d say his faith came from within. It didn’t come from hearing a sermon.’
Did he have a least-favorite film?
(laughs) He didn’t like “Call of the Wild” very much. He said, ‘It was a great story and we screwed it up.’ (laughs) They just released [a new version] with Harrison Ford, which I haven’t seen yet but I look forward to it.
What is your father’s legacy?
I think his first legacy is as a husband and father and grandfather. He was a great family man. He was a kind-hearted, humorous soul. He was not a stern taskmaster or an Old Testament prophet, nor was he a cowboy or an astronaut or president. He played those things, but he wasn’t those people.
Do fans have a limited view of him?
If you look at his career, people think of two poles in his career and life: Holding up the staff in “Ten Commandments” and saying, “Behold, his mighty hand!” And holding up the musket, the same gesture, in front of the National Rifle Association and saying, “From my cold dead hands!” Almost the same line, kind of playing the same role, in a way — leading the people, as it were. But there was so much more to my father than falls between those two images that happened 50 years apart. Being president of the Screen Guild, helping to found the American Film Institute, leading the arts contingent in the  March on Washington of the civil rights movement, going to Viet Nam three times with the USO when that wasn’t such a popular thing to do. And he worked on the National Council of the Arts. And so on and so on. Clearly, he was a patriot, a good citizen. He felt his responsibility to help his family, his art, his fellow artists and his country.
What memories do you have of hanging out with him on film sets?
So many. Aside from almost drowning on the set of “Ten Commandments,” he’d find a corner for me to watch and I’d watch for hours. He’d say, “Son, do you want to go home? If you’re bored, I can have somebody drive you home.” I’d say, “No, daddy, I want to see your work and movies being made.” It’s no wonder I became a director, and hopefully I soaked up some of the skills from [“Ben-Hur” director] “William Wyler and Cecil B. DeMille. Or from my dad.