Remembering Bill Paxton

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – You could in no way describe me as a celebrity-worshiper or one who follows the Hollywood circuit, and there are a large number of modern celebs I could not identify. Still, 2016 was a rough year for celebrities and we lost many artists that cut close to the heart (David Bowie!).

And now, Bill Paxton.

Paxton may not be way up on your list like say, Carrie Fisher, but I loved his work. My husband literally hated the movie Twister, but I will always remember Paxton’s boyish grin, good ‘ol boy persona, and that shock of hair draped across his forehead as he prepared to chase another tornado across the Midwest. Or Titanic, when he coaxed Rose’s romantic story from her (“Tell us your story, Rose”) to solve the mystery of the drawing he’d found in the rusted, drowned iron safe. For several years the documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss, was in my classroom video rotation as we studied the story of the Titanic; the descent to the bottom of the ocean in the small submersible gave Paxton great unease and the kids were always fascinated when he threw up in the barf bag.

He was in a lot of mediocre movies, and some very good ones, and he played Morgan Earp in Tombstone, one of my favorite movies. He won awards for his work in the television series Big Love. He worked in film, television, and music for four decades.

Paxton was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas – a neighbor. According to Wikipedia, he was in the crowd the morning Kennedy emerged from his hotel in Dallas on the day he was assassinated.

Paxton died February 25, 2017 at sixty-one years of age following complications from heart surgery. The tributes began immediately. Paxton “was as genuine as they come. A true-life good guy. Curious, kind. Always reaching out,” said Anthony Breznican in Entertainment Weekly.

Paxton was reportedly an all-around good guy, generous and kind to his fans, and curious about life.  This came across in every character he portrayed.

That scene in Twister, when he grabs the storm ravaged Helen Hunt in her white tank top, her blond locks perfectly mussed by tornadic winds, and says, “You gotta move on. Stop living in the past, and look what you got right in front of you,” well, how could she resist him? (She couldn’t).

In a world full of Kardashians and superficial, self-important people, Bill Paxton was a breath of fresh air. He will be missed.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.