Bill Paxton, Star of 'Twister' and HBO's 'Big Love,' Dies at 61

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Bill Paxton, longtime actor and star of such hits as Apollo 13, Twister, HBO’s Big Love and most recently, CBS’ TV adaptation of Training Day died unexpectedly on Feb. 25, ET has learned. He was 61. A source tells ET that Paxton had a heart condition and was getting surgery at the time of his death. He was in good spirits. “It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a representative for the family said in a statement.MORE: Bill Paxton Dies at 61 -- Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt and More Celebs Pay Tribute to Actor “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill's passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family's wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.” MORE: Stars We've Lost in Recent Years The Texas-born actor got his start on the screen in the ‘80s with several notable supporting roles in back-to-back hits, such as The Terminator (1984), Weird Science (1985) and Aliens (1986). It was the latter, which not only was a box office success but also earned seven Academy Award nominations and 11 Saturn Award nominations, including a win for Best Supporting Actor for Paxton, that helped launch the actor’s career. A reliable ensemble player, Paxton went on to share the screen with Charlie Sheen , Patrick Swayze, Val Kilmer and Danny Glover in Predators 2, which made Paxton notable in the sci-fi world as being the only actor to appear in the Alien, Predator and Terminator franchises.
Photo: HBO
Paxton eventually reunited with Aliens director James Cameron on True Lies in 1994 and later, in 1997 in Titanic. The mid-‘90s proved to be hugely successful for the actor as he went on to star in Apollo 13 and the blockbuster natural disaster film Twister, which earned nearly $242 million at the U.S. box office and became the second highest-grossing film of 1996 and one of the biggest of Paxton’s career as a leading man. A decade later, the actor found critical acclaim on HBO’s Big Love, playing the patriarch of a fictional fundamentalist Mormon that practices polygamy. The series, which ran for five seasons, earned Paxton three Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Bill Henrickson. He immediately followed that series with History Channel’s three-part miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, which earned Paxton a primetime Emmy nomination, which he would go on to lose to his co-star Kevin Costner.
In recent years, Paxton appeared in such films as Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal and another History Channel miniseries Texas Rising. He was most recently the star of CBS’ TV adaptation of Training Day, which just premiered on Feb. 2. “When I read the pilot, there was a lot of action in the pilot and I thought ‘Oh my god, are you ready for this?’” Paxton told ET about joining the series about playing the morally ambiguous Detective Frank Roark. Following the news of Paxton's death, CBS and Warner Bros. Television issued a statement about the Training Day star: "We are shocked and deeply saddened this morning by the news of Bill Paxton's passing. Bill was, of course, a gifted and popular actor with so many memorable roles on film and television. His colleagues at CBS and Warner Bros. Television will also remember a guy who lit up every room with infectious charm, energy and warmth, and as a great storyteller who loved to share entertaining anecdotes and stories about his work. All of us here offer our deepest sympathy to his wife, Louise, and his two children." Off-screen, an 8-year-old Paxton was noted for being in the crowd as John F. Kennedy emerged from a hotel on the day of the president’s assassination. His image is preserved at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas. The actor was married to Kelly Rowan for a year in 1979. He later remarried in 1987 to Louise Newbury. The couple, who have been together for 30 years, had two kids, James, an 22-year-old actor on USA’sEyewitness, and Lydia Paxton, 19.