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.

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