Just before the Oscars, movie fans were stunned to learn of the sudden death of the beloved actor Bill Paxton. According to a statement the 61-year-old’s family made, he died due to complications from heart surgery. Bill Paxton was the star of some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters from the 1980s and 1990s. In the starring role in the cutting edge 1996 film The Twister, he drove us through the eye of the storm. He also helped bring us back home after a failed mission to the moon in Apollo 13 and won a Screen Actors Guild Award for this role.
Paxton suffered from rheumatic fever when he was seven years old. As an eight-year-old, he witnessed history, waving to President Kennedy in Dallas moments before he was assassinated. He reminisced, “my dad said we will go see the motorcade drive by. It was something about seeing him in color. He was in a blue suit and his hair was red.” Paxton, alongside Tom Hanks, would later help develop a film called Parkland about the chaos that day. Later in his career, Paxton moved from the big screen to the small screen, playing Bill Henrickson, a Mormon husband in HBO’s Big Love. He helped to elevate the history channel with his Emmy-winning role in the miniseries Hatfields and McCoys. Paxton proved himself to be a versatile player by not allowing a specific role define his character as an actor. He added, “I’m considered a working actor. You see the big stars who work all the time. I never had that one movie that really put it altogether for me.” He found his niche as a character actor as he told Katie Couric in 2002. He was starring in the movie The Circle and the CBS crime show Training Day before his death.
His family released a statement saying, “His passion was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.” Apollo 13 co-star Tom Hanks tweeted, “Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man,” and Kevin Bacon reminisced, “Some of my favorite memories are of floating around in a tiny vessel with the big hearted, hilarious, brilliant Bill Paxton.”