Actor Bill Paxton dies at 61 due to complications from surgery

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Bill Paxton, the affable actor who was a co-star in a string of 1990s blockbusters including “Twister,” “Titanic” and “Apollo 13” and later played the lead in the critically acclaimed television drama “Big Love,” has died. He was 61.

His death, from complications of surgery, was announced on Sunday by a family representative. The statement did not say when or where Paxton died, but Rolling Stone reported that he died on Saturday.

Early in his career, Paxton had small parts in “The Terminator” (1984) and “Aliens” (1986). Both films were directed by James Cameron, who later featured him in more high-profile roles: as a used-car salesman who cheated Jamie Lee Curtis’s character in “True Lies” (1994) and as the treasure-hunting scientist who salvaged the wreck of the ocean liner in “Titanic” (1997).

He also starred in Ron Howard’s Oscar-nominated film “Apollo 13” (1995), portraying Fred Haise, one of three astronauts on a mission to the moon that experienced serious mechanical problems, and in “Twister” (1996) as a storm-chaser.

Over the last decade, Paxton appeared regularly on television.

From 2006 to 2011, he played Bill Henrickson, the patriarch of a polygamist family in Utah, on the HBO series “Big Love.” He received threeGolden Globe nominations for his portrayal.

In 2012, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for playing Randolph McCoy in the three-part miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” on the History Channel. And in 2014, he appeared in six episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC.

Paxton returned to TV this year as the star of “Training Day,” CBS’s new police drama.

A spinoff of the 2001 movie starring Denzel Washington, the series had its premiere earlier this month, and only four episodes have been broadcast. In total, 13 episodes of “Training Day” have been filmed, and Paxton appears in all of them.

For now, the show will continue to be shown on Thursday nights, but its future is not certain: Reviews have been mixed — though Paxton’s performance as a rogue cop has been praised — and its ratings have been low, averaging little more than four million viewers.

In a statement, CBS and Warner Bros. Television said they were “shocked and deeply saddened” by Paxton’s death, but they offered no word on the show’s future.

Paxton was born on May 17, 1955, in Fort Worth.

When he was 8, Paxton and his brother, Bob, were taken by their father to see President John F. Kennedy on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, in Fort Worth, hours before his assassination in Dallas.

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“It was amazing to see President Kennedy, because God, I had mostly seen him on television in black-and-white, and there he was in living colour,” he recalled in a 2013 interview.

“I remember just a really euphoric crowd. I was a bit young to really understand later the consequences of the event.”

There is a photograph of Paxton from that morning, perched on a stranger’s shoulders.

Paxton’s survivors include his wife of more than 30 years, Louise Newbury; and two children, James and Lydia.

Long before his role in “Big Love,’’ Bill Paxton was good-natured in assessing his status in Hollywood.

“It’s always a little frustrating when you’re reading a script after 10 guys ahead of you have had a chance to pick it over,” he said in 1998. “You can almost see the bread crumbs. I haven’t had a role that’s propelled me into major stardom. Sure, I’ve had roles that put me on the playing field. A lot of base hits. No home runs.”

 COURTESY THE NEW YORK TIMES