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Remembering Bill Paxton: A TV legacy to be celebrated & appreciated

At first mention of the words “Bill Paxton,” imagery of a venerable life on the big screen begin to flood the memory bank.

He chased giant tornadoes and went looking for equally grand diamonds lost at sea. He went to the moon and back, and tried to tame the Wild, Wild West.

But for Bill Paxton — who died Saturday at age 61, following complications from surgery — his legacy on the small screen was truly larger than life – even if it incorrectly tends to be an afterthought in what was nothing short of a remarkable career.

Screener looks back at Paxton’s career, with some of our favorite TV roles the actor brought to life:

‘Big Love’

'Big Love'

As polygamist patriarch Bill Henrickson, Paxton was the driving force behind HBO’s “Big Love” for all five seasons, from 2006-2011. A show that at its core focused on the strength of its women — Henrickson’s three wives, played meticulously by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin — showcased Bill’s abiding drive to create a lasting legacy for his family.

As for that final scene… Paxton made it no secret he did not agree with the decision to have Henrickson’s journey end at the hands of a crazed neighbor’s pistol, even though it allowed for the perfect homage to Henrickson’s dramatic arc — a family unit who chose to stay together even though the common bond that brought them all together was gone.

‘Hatfields & McCoys’

hatfields mccoys history channel bill paxton Remembering Bill Paxton: A TV legacy to be celebrated & appreciatedThe History Channel’s three-part miniseries saw Paxton as Randolph “Randall” McCoy, leader of the McCoy clan, opposite Kevin Costner’s William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield.

RELATED: ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ makes ratings history for History Channel

The role earned Paxton his first Emmy nomination in 2012 in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie — an award which co-star Costner took home.

‘Agents of SHIELD’

agents of shield bill paxton Remembering Bill Paxton: A TV legacy to be celebrated & appreciated

As Season 1 of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” drew to a close, fans were introduced to agent John Garrett, played by Paxton. The Season 1 finale saw the team facing down the newly superpowered Garrett, who found himself with strange abilities and extraordinary strength.

It was a unique turn for Paxton — one that not only delighted fans, but the veteran actor as well.

“I kind of felt like Alastair Sim in the classic black-and-white ‘Christmas Carol’ after he’s had the visitations from the three ghosts. He’s just so ebullient on Christmas morning because he’s had this redemption and he sees the way it should be. He’s almost giddy as a schoolboy,” he said of his character, at the time.

‘Training Day’


In what would prove to be Paxton’s final role, the actor starred as Detective Frank Roarke, head of LAPD’s Special Investigation Section (SIS) for the freshman CBS series.

The small screen adaptation picked up 15 years after the events of Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke’s award-winning 2001 film.

Season 1 of “Training Day” debuted February 2, 2017 on CBS, and four of the first six episodes from Season 1 had aired at the time of Paxton’s death. The final two episodes of Season 1, which were already filmed, are scheduled to air on March 2 and March 9, respectively.

CBS wrapped production of Season 1 of “Training Day” in December, the network confirmed to Screener on Sunday morning following the news of Paxton’s death.

“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,” CBS and Warner Bros Television said in a statement to Screener.

Paxton is survived by his two children, James and Lydia Paxton, and his wife of 30 years Louise Newbury. Screener offers our condolences to the Paxton family.

Category: TelevisionTV Shows: Agents of SHIELD Big Love Hatfields & McCoys Training DayCelebrities: Bill PaxtonTV Network: ABC CBS HBO History Channel

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