We lost an interesting and prolific actor over the weekend, someone whose career I’ve followed since the 1980s.
Bill Paxton passed away at the age of 61 years from complications of a post-surgical stroke following heart surgery Saturday.
I first became acquainted with Paxton in the early 80s as a member of the band Martini Ranch and its minor hit “How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self-Culture?” (I bought and still retain both the noted hit single and their only album “Holy Cow” to this very day.) I didn’t know who he was at the time; I was more interested in the band and the fact it was produced by and featured members of the band Devo.
But later I began seeing his name crop up in various films which defined his earlier career, films such as Weird Science, The Terminator and Aliens. (The latter two films were directed by James Cameron who, not so coincidentally, also directed Martini Ranch’s video for the tune mentioned above. Their association would last throughout Paxton’s career and includes the #2 highest grossing film of all time, Cameron’s Titanic, in which Paxton has a role.)
Yeah … I know. You didn’t realize Paxton co-fronted a New Wave 80s band. And that was way before his popularity in film took off with the likes of True Lies, Tombstone, Apollo 13 and Twister to mention a very few.
As well, I bet dollars to donuts you didn’t know he directed and starred in the video for the bizarre Barnes and Barnes novelty song (and frequent Dr. Demento staple) “Fish Heads” …
Nor did you realize he was featured in the video for Pat Benatar’s “Shadows Of The Night” from her 4th album, 1984’s “Get Nervous” (clips of which may be seen here) as well as New Order’s video parody “Touched By The Hand Of God.” The guy loved appearing in musical film shorts.
Paxton was a workhorse: 93 acting credits to his name in both film, television and video. And that doesn’t include his many director, producer and writing credits. He worked right up to his demise, the CBS Training Day series currently airing with the film The Circle yet to be released. Seek out his career – you’ll be surprised at the things he’s appeared in, not to mention the numerous awards and nominations he racked up during his career.
I’ll most remember him as the Utah polygamist with three wives in HBO’s Big Love (where he was nominated for a Golden Globe three times over) and his Emmy nominated role as Randall McCoy in the History Channel’s 2012 Hatfields & McCoys.
You will be missed, Mr. Paxton.