The Time Charlton Heston Wrote to “Dear Abby”

No one talked him out of this?

Back in 1998, advice columnist Abigail Van Buren took a letter from a woman who was deeply upset about her husband urinating in their front yard. Her response was, frankly, not terribly helpful.

This is not a subject that’s often discussed, but I suspect the practice is not unusual. Dogs and cats urinate to mark their territory. Your husband may be doing it for the same reason. For pets, the problem can be resolved by neutering; however, I wouldn’t recommend that for your husband.

That’s some advice, Abby. “Don’t have your husband neutered”. Got it. That really was about all she offered, except that according to the Los Angeles Police Department1, it’s “not illegal as long as it is not in public view.”

A few weeks later, the column printed a response from Charlton Heston. More than two decades later, I still think about it.

DEAR ABBY: Though a frequent reader (after my wife), I’ve only now found reason to write to you, in response to the lady who feared her husband’s habit of urinating on their lawn was inappropriate.

So it may be, but the fact remains that all men pee outdoors.

My best to you and continued good luck with your column.

Once I get past the obvious joke about prying Heston’s outdoor-micturating penis from his cold, dead hands, I really just have to wonder what compelled him to write this letter. How could a world-famous actor feel so strongly about peeing outside that he’d take the time to mail a letter in support of the practice? Did no one suggest he might be better off passing up the opportunity to assert his allegiance to this particular cause?

Unfortunately for me, from Heston to his wife to (the original) Dear Abby, all the major players in this drama are now dead. As such, I don’t think I’ll ever get answers to my questions. At least now we can enjoy this bizarre occurrence together.


  1. I haven’t a clue why she chose the LAPD to answer this question. I don’t believe she lived in LA, nor does it appear the letter writer did, and her column was nationally syndicated. ↩︎