Ac­tor Bill Paxton dies

Known for roles in ‘Apollo 13’, ‘Ti­tanic’ and HBO se­ries ‘Big Love’


Bill Paxton, a pro­lific and charis­matic ac­tor who had me­morable roles in such block­busters as “Apollo 13’’ and “Ti­tanic’’ while also cher­ish­ing his work in “One False Move’’ and other low-bud­get movies and in the HBO se­ries “Big Love,’’ has died from com­pli­ca­tions due to surgery. He was 61.

A fam­ily rep­re­sen­ta­tive is­sued a state­ment Sun­day on the death but pro­vided no fur­ther de­tails.

Paxton, a Fort Worth, Texas, na­tive, ap­peared in dozens of movies and tele­vi­sion shows and seemed to be around when his­tory was made both on and off screen. As a boy, he was in the crowd that wel­comed Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in Texas on the morn­ing of Nov. 22, 1963, hours be­fore Kennedy was killed in Dal­las. As a young man, he worked in the art de­part­ment for “B’’ movie king Roger Cor­man, who helped launch the ca­reers of nu­mer­ous actors and film­mak­ers.

Paxton’s movie cred­its in­cluded some of the sig­na­ture works of the past 40 years, from “Ti­tanic’’ and “Apollo 13’’ to “The Ter­mi­na­tor and ‘’Aliens.” Tele­vi­sion fans knew him for his role as a po­lyg­a­mist, with three wives who ex­pected the best from him, in the HBO se­ries ‘’Big Love,” for which he re­ceived three Golden Globe nom­i­na­tions.

“Bill Paxton was a big­hearted, thought­ful and hon­ourable per­son,’’ his “Big Love’’ co-star Chloe Se­vi­gny said in a state­ment. “He al­ways had a smile on his face and could en­ter­tain any room with his won­der­ful sto­ries of his many amaz­ing years in Hol­ly­wood.’’

Paxton was cur­rently star­ring in the CBS drama “Train­ing Day,’’ which pre­miered Feb. 2. The net­work has not yet an­nounced whether it will con­tinue to air the com­pleted episodes.

Paxton is sur­vived by his wife of 30 years, Louise New­bury, and their two chil­dren. His first mar­riage, to Kelly Rowan, ended in di­vorce.

His death adds a sad note to Sun­day night’s Academy Awards cer­e­monies. Paxton was never nom­i­nated but ap­peared in sev­eral Os­car-win­ning movies and was beloved and re­spected through­out Hol­ly­wood and be­yond.

“On this Os­car Sun­day, watch ‘One False Move’ or ‘A Sim­ple Plan’ to see this lovely lead­ing man, at his finest,’’ Paxton’s friend Rob Lowe tweeted.

Paxton brought a re­li­ably hu­man di­men­sion to big­bud­get ac­tion ad­ven­tures and science fic­tion. He was, sci-fi fans like to point out, the only ac­tor killed by a Preda­tor, a Ter­mi­na­tor and an Alien. But Paxton, fa­mously ge­nial and ap­proach­able, de­fined his ca­reer less by his mar­quee sta­tus than as a char­ac­ter ac­tor whose reg­u­lar Joes ap­peared across the likes of “One False Move,’’ ‘’A Sim­ple Plan” and ‘’Nightcrawler.”

“I’m a frus­trated ro­man­tic ac­tor,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2006. ‘’I wanted to play the Bud part in ‘Splen­dor in the Grass,’ I wanted to play Romeo _ the great, un­re­quited, tragic love sto­ries. I’ve got­ten to mix it up a bit with the ladies but the ro­mance has been a sub­plot, run­ning from the tor­nado or what­ever.”

“I feel like I’m a re­gion­al­ist and a pop­ulist who’s never fit in among the in­tel­lec­tu­als,’’ he added. “I think there’s where the heart of Amer­i­can art is. My great­est roles have been in re­gional films, whether it was ‘One False Move’ or ‘Frailty’ or ‘Sim­ple Plan’ or ‘Trav­eller.’’’

Paxton of­ten spoke warmly of his up­bring­ing, and how his father ex­posed him early to movies and the stage. His father, John Paxton, also shared his son’s knack for be­ing around fa­mous peo­ple. A child­hood neigh­bour was the artist Thomas Hart Ben­ton. John Paxton later be­longed to the same golf­ing club as the great Ben Ho­gan, whom Bill Paxton got to know grow­ing up.

One of the in­dus­try’s busiest actors, Paxton once said the hard­est part of his ca­reer wasn’t the work it­self, but the time in be­tween.

“You know all the time I’ve been in this busi­ness which is a long, long time now, I go from hav­ing in­cred­i­ble days like shoot­ing the part of Sam Hous­ton and then all of a sud­den I’m home and I’m out of work and it’s two o’clock in the af­ter­noon, I’m in my boxer shorts watch­ing Turner Clas­sic Movies,’’ he told the AP in 2015. “And all I can tell you is, thank God for Turner Clas­sic Movies and Robert Os­borne. ‘’


In this May 31, 2015, file photo, Bill Paxton ar­rives at the Crit­ics’ Choice Tele­vi­sion Awards at the Bev­erly Hil­ton ho­tel in Bev­erly Hills, Calif.

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