Bill Paxton, Saturn-Award Winning Actor, Dead at 61

Actor/director Bill Paxton died Saturday, February 25, 2017, according to The Telegraph. He was 61 and died of complications from heart surgery. Paxton was well known to science fiction fans, having won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Private Hudson in Aliens. He also played astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13.

Bill Paxton as Private William Hudson in Aliens  [Image via 20th Century Fox]

The Paxton family issued the following statement:

It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery.  A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.

Paxton appeared in many SF films.  He had a minor role in the original The Terminator, as a punk confronted by the time-travelling robot.  He played Chet Donnelly, Wyatt’s brother, in Weird Science. He was the psychotic vampire Severen in Near Dark, which reunited him with his Aliens co-star Lance Henriksen. He was hustler and arms dealer Matt Owens in Slipstream.  He co-starred in the horror film Brain Dead as  unscrupulous businessman Jim Reston. He had a comic relief part in Predator 2 as Det. Jerry Lambert.  He starred in the comedy/horror film The Vagrant as Graham Krakowski and in the reboot of Mighty Joe Young as Professor O’Hara.  Paxton had a small role in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over as Dinky Winks and starred in the live-action reboot of Thunderbirds as former astronaut Jeff Tracy.  He voiced the part of astronaut Edgar Mitchell in the documentary Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D.  He co-starred as Mason in the horror film The Colony. He was Master Sergeant Farrell in Edge of Tomorrow. On television, he guest starred in The Hitchhiker  and Tales from the Crypt, and played John Garrett in six episodes of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Bill Paxton as MSgt. Farrell in Edge of Tomorrow [Image via Warner Brothers]

Paxton also had several non-SF roles, including Brock Lovett in Titanic, Morgan Earp in Tombstone, and baseball coach Tom House in Million Dollar Arm.  His final movie role will be Mr. Holland in The Circle, starring Emma (Hermione Granger) Watson as his daughter Mae Holland; The Circle will be released April 28, 2017. On television Paxton was best known for playing Randolph McCoy on The Hatfields and the McCoys,  polygamist Bill Henrickson on Big Love, and Sam Houston in Texas Rising.  At the time of his death, he was starring in the new show Training Day as Det. Frank Roarke.  CBS has not yet announced if his death will cause the series to be cancelled, or if the role will be recast.

Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, and Bill Paxton in Apollo 13 [Image via Universal Pictures]

Bill Paxton was born in Fort Worth, Texas, May 17, 1955.  At 18, he came to California to begin his movie career working as a set dresser for Roger Corman.  He made his theatrical debut at age 20, in Crazy Mama, produced by Roger’s wife, Julie Corman.  Paxton was married twice, briefly to Kelly Rowan, and then in 1987 to Louise Newbury.  Paxton is survived by his wife Louise, and their children James and Lydia Paxton.

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About Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children's book R is for Renaissance Faire, as well as short stories in Alternative Truths,  Swords and Sorceress #30, Supernatural Colorado, Barbarian Crowns, and Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid. Her articles have appeared on Krypton Radio's website, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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