Bill Paxton was born on May 17, 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Mary Lou (Gray) and John Lane Paxton, a businessman and actor (as John Paxton). Bill moved to Los Angeles, California at age eighteen, where he found work in the film industry as a set dresser for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. He made his film debut in the Corman film Crazy Mama (1975), directed by Jonathan Demme. Moving to New York, Paxton studied acting under Stella Adler at New York University. After landing a small role in Stripes (1981), he found steady work in low-budget films and television. He also directed, wrote and produced award-winning short films including Barnes & Barnes: Fish Heads (1980), which aired on Saturday Night Live (1975). His first appearance in a James Cameron film was a small role in The Terminator (1984), followed by his very memorable performance as Private Hudson in Aliens (1986) and as the nomadic vampire Severen in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark (1987). Bill also appeared in John Hughes’ Weird Science (1985), as Wyatt Donnelly’s sadistic older brother Chet. Although he continued to work steadily in film and television, his big break did not come until his lead role in the critically acclaimed film-noir One False Move (1992). This quickly led to strong supporting roles as Wyatt Earp’s naive younger brother Morgan in Tombstone (1993) and as Fred Haise, one of the three astronauts, in Apollo 13 (1995), as well as in James Cameron’s offering True Lies (1994).
Bill died on February 25, 2017, in Los Angeles, from complications following heart surgery. He was 61.
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