Saturday, March 30, 2024

Bill Paxton


"I don't believe in heroes and villains, ultimately.  I believe people are capable of great villainy and great heroism - the same person."

William "Bill" Paxton
was born in Fort Worth, Texas on May 17, 1955.  He could trace his ancestry back to the Civil War, when his great-great grandfather served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army, ultimately perishing at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

After high school, Paxton studied at Richmond College in London.  He then relocated to Los Angeles, where he hoped to find work as a director.  In the meantime, he worked at several Hollywood prop and art departments while also serving as a parking valet at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was during this time that he decided to focus on acting instead.

His first role was as a mortuary assistant in the 1983 film Mortuary.  The following year, he'd have a more memorable role as a punk who runs afoul of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.  He'd have a much more substantial role alongside Schwarzenegger in 1985's Commando.  He is probably best remembered however, for his role of Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993) and for Brock Lovett in Titanic. (1997).

Paxton also found work on the small screen as well.  For six seasons, he starred as polygamist William Orville Henrickson on the HBO series Big Love.  He also had a memorable role as Randall McCoy in the History Channel's presentation of The Hatfields and The McCoys (2012).

On February 14, 2017, Paxton underwent surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to repair an aortic heart valve, the result of his childhood bout with rheumatic fever.  The following day, he had emergency surgery to repair a damaged coronary artery, and his condition would only get worse.  He'd spend the next ten days in recovery, before ultimately passing from a stroke on February 25th.  He was just 61 years old.

Bill Paxton was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Location: Court of Liberty, Map #H36, Lot #2104
Inscription: "You Are In Our Hearts Forever"

Rest in peace.

  • Know before you go!  Forest Lawn staff members do not give out the locations of their famous residents.  If you want to find Bill's marker, simply follow the GPS coordinates found on his Find a Grave page. 

  • The marker's inscription is somewhat ironic, given that heart complications led to Paxton's untimely death.

  • One year after Paxton's death, his family field a wrongful death lawsuit against surgeon Ali Khoynezhad, claiming the doctor had not been present during key portions of Paxton's surgery. The family believed this contributed to the complications Paxton developed and which ultimately led to his death.  In 2022, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

  • When he was eight years old, Paxton went with his family to see a speech by then-President John F. Kennedy, who was visiting Texas at the time.  The date was November 22, 1963.  A photo of Paxton in the crowd that day is on display at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

  • Paxton was famous for playing characters who did not survive the film.  He died in The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), Next of Kin (1989), Navy Seals (1990), Predator 2 (1990), Tombstone (1993), U-571 (2000), Vertical Limit (2000), and Club Dread (2004).  Despite all this, his real death was no less shocking.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Green Acres' Mr. Haney


"CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram was born in Addison, Alabama, on June 19, 1915.  He was the son of a Methodist minister who would later study for the ministry himself, as a student at Birmingham-Southern College.

While studying for his degree however, Buttram began acting in school plays and appearing on local radio programs, eventually earning his own show on CBS. It was his ticket to Hollywood, where he landed in the 1940s, quickly finding work as a reliable character actor, often paired with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

In 1965, Buttram landed the role for which he is most famously remembered, that of Eustace Haney on the CBS sit-com Green Acres.  It was canceled in 1971 in what is now known as the "rural purge."  CBS canceled a slew of series that featured a rural setting, including The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres.  Of the purge, Buttram once famously quipped "CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

When the series ended, Buttram found steady work as a voice actor in several animated features with the Walt Disney Company.  He voiced Napolean in The Aristocats (1970), The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973), and later, a Toon Bullet in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). This blogger fondly remembers his role in Back to the Future Part 3, where he famously quipped "everyone will say Clint Eastwood is the biggest yellow-belly in the west."  You can watch a compilation of his finest hits on YouTube.

Buttram died of kidney failure at the UCLA Medical Center on January 8, 1994.  He was just 78 years old.  He was returned to his native Alabama, where he was laid to rest at Maxwell Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Double Springs.

Rest in peace, Mr. Haney.

  • The inscription on Buttram's headstone reads "A Man Deserves Paradise Who Can Make His Companions Laugh." This blogger attempted to find the origin of this quote, but there remains much online debate.  It is often attributed to the Koran, though there seems to be no direct passage as such.

  • In 2015, author Sandra Grabman released her biography on Buttram's life.  You can pick up a copy of Pat Buttram: The Rocking Chair Humorist from Amazon.

  • In 1982, Buttram founded the Golden Boot Awards to honor actors, stuntmen, and other Hollywood professionals working in the western genre.  The awards were eventually discontinued in 2007.

  • Buttram has both a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and another on the Alabama Stars of Fame walkway in Birmingham.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Nicole Brown Simpson


Nicole Brown Simpson was born on May 19, 1959, in Frankfurt, West Germany, where her father, an Air Force Captain, was stationed.  The family eventually returned to the United States, settling down in southern California.

After graduating from Dana Hills High School in 1976, Nicole went to work as a waitress at a Beverly Hills night club called The Daisy.  It was there in 1977 that she met former Buffalo Bills running back OJ Simpson.  Although he was married at the time, true love could not be denied, and the couple were married on February 2, 1985.

By 1989, the couple had experienced their fair share of ups and downs.  On more than one occasion, Nicole called 911, and ultimately filed charges of spousal abuse.  She'd later withdraw her charges after speaking to her family, who had benefitted financially from Simpson's association with Hertz Rental Car.

Nicole eventually did file for divorce on February 25, 1992, citing irreconcilable differences.  She moved out of their shared estate in Brentwood and relocated just a few blocks over.  Following their divorce, they eventually reconciled, though according to Nicole, it was still a very volatile relationship.

On June 12, 1994, Nicole and her friend Ron Brown were found brutally murdered outside her home.  Although a suspect was initially identified by police, he was later cleared by a jury of his peers.  To this day, no one has any idea who really killed Nicole.

Nicole Brown Simpson was laid to rest at Ascension Cemetery in Orange County, California.  Despite how it was depicted in the documentary The People vs. OJ Simpson, the grave is not visible from the road, and her husband, or anyone else, would have to exit their vehicle in order to pay their respects.

Rest in peace, Nicole.

  • This blogger took the photo shown above in 2006.  You'll note that it appears as if the marker is intended for two people, as there is plenty of space left for another name.  In fact, eight years later, Nicole's father, Louis Brown, Jr. passed away at age 90.  He was laid to rest with his daughter, and the marker was updated.  Then in 2020, Nicole's mother Juditha passed away at age 89, and an entirely new marker was installed, bearing all three names.  This blogger would love to know what became of the original marker.

    Photo courtesy of
  • Nicole's husband was once famously filmed in a white Ford Bronco driving down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.  Today, that Bronco in on display at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  This blogger recently saw it on display.

  • In 1998, a construction team working at the Rockingham estate owned by Nicole's widower accidentally dug up a discarded knife, which some purport may or may not be the murder weapon.  Today, it is on display in Pigeon Forge, at Beyond the Lens, an interactive museum owned by the National Enquirer.  This blogger recommends both museums.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Steve and Eydie


Earlier this week, we lost singer and actor Steve Lawrence, who passed away at 88 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.  Lawrence was best remembered as one half of Steve and Eydie, a married musical duo who entertained generations in concert halls and nightclubs the world over.

They first met in the mid-1950s, when they were both cast members on what is today called The Tonight Show.  They were married in 1957 and spent the next five decades touring the world with their own unique blend of pop culture hits. 

She was born Edith Goremano in the Bronx, New York, on August 16, 1928. Her parents had emigrated from Turkey, and Eydie was from the first generation born in America.  

After high school, she worked as a Spanish translator, but had her eye on music.  She had her first hit in 1956, Too Close for Comfort.  She'd follow it up one year later with the singles Mama, Teach Me to Dance and Love Me Forever.  Over the course of their career, the duo released thirteen albums together.

Eydie Gorme Lawrence passed away on August 10, 2013, one week shy of her 85th birthday.  Steve issued the following statement.

"Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years.  I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing.  While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time."

Eydie was entombed at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.  The currently vacant slot next to her is reserved for Steve himself, and as her marker declares, they will soon be reunited.

Rest in peace Eydie...and Steve.

  • The inscription on Eydie's marker contains a verse from one of the couple's greatest hits, Our Love is Here to Stay.  Take a listen to it on YouTube.

  • Steve and Eydie had two children together, one of whom passed away from a heart ailment at just 23 years old.  The grieving couple did not perform for over a year following his death