Family representative: 'Titanic' actor Bill Paxton has died
The charismatic actor had roles in “Apollo 13,” “The Terminator,” and “Aliens.”
February 26, 2017 1:27 PM
Richard Shotwell/Associated Press
Bill Paxton arrives at the Critics' Choice Television Awards at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2015.
By Erin McCann / The New York Times
Bill Paxton, the affable actor who co-starred in a string of 1990s blockbusters including “Twister,” “Titanic” and “Apollo 13” and later played the lead in the critically acclaimed television drama “Big Love,” has died. He was 61.
His death, from complications of surgery, was announced on Sunday in a statement from a representative for his family. It did not elaborate on when and where Mr. Paxton died. But Rolling Stone reported that he died on Saturday.
Early in his career, Mr. Paxton had small parts in “The Terminator” in 1984 and “Aliens” in 1986. Both films were directed by James Cameron, who later featured the actor in more high-profile roles: as a used-car salesman who ripped off Jamie Lee Curtis’s character in “True Lies” in 1994, and as the treasure-hunting scientist who discovered the wreck of the ocean liner in “Titanic” in 1997.
In the 1990s, he also starred in Ron Howard’s Oscar-nominated film “Apollo 13,” portraying Fred Haise, one of three men trapped orbiting above Earth, and in “Twister,” as a storm-chaser.
Over the last decade, Mr. Paxton appeared regularly on TV.
From 2006 to 2011, he played Bill Henrickson, the patriarch of a polygamist family in Utah, on the HBO series “Big Love.” He received three Golden Globe nominations for his acting on the show.
In 2012, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for playing Randolph McCoy in the three-part mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys,” on the History channel. And in 2014, he appeared in six episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” on ABC.
Mr. Paxton returned to TV as the star of CBS’s new police drama, “Training Day.”
A spinoff of the 2001 movie starring Denzel Washington, the series premiered earlier this month and only four episodes have been broadcast. In total, 13 episodes of “Training Day” have been filmed, and Mr. Paxton appears in all of them.
In the near term, the show will continue to be shown on Thursday nights, but its future is not certain: Reviews have been mixed — though Mr. Paxton’s performance as a rogue cop has been praised — and it averages little more than four million viewers.
Tributes to Mr. Paxton poured in on social media.
“Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man,” Tom Hanks, a co-star in “Apollo 13,” wrote on Twitter.
Cary Elwes, one of his co-stars in “Twister,” shared a photograph of the two men on set and said he was “very sad” to hear of Mr. Paxton’s death.
Ms. Curtis called him “a funny, talented, loving human.”
Mr. Howard called the news “crushing.”
Mr. Paxton was born on May 17, 1955, in Fort Worth, Texas. Survivors include his wife of more than 30 years, Louise Newbury; and two children, James and Lydia.
Long before his role in “Big Love,’’ Mr. Paxton was good-natured in assessing his status in Hollywood.
“It’s always a little frustrating when you’re reading a script after 10 guys ahead of you have had a chance to pick it over,” he said in 1998. “You can almost see the bread crumbs. I haven’t had a role that’s propelled me into major stardom. Sure, I’ve had roles that put me on the playing field. A lot of base hits. No home runs.”