Hollywood actor Bill Paxton, 61, died of complications from surgery. However, one Oklahoma town is mourning his loss as if he was one of their own.
“My reaction, as well as the entire town, is just stunned, like it’s a family member,” said Linda Wade of Wakita.
In 1995, Paxton spent almost two months in Wakita, a small Oklahoma town near the Kansas border, while filming the blockbuster movie Twister.
“Bill showed up in town with a football,” Wade said. “That was the first thing he did with everybody was play football.”
Wade and other residents served as extras in the film and were even given complete access to the closed sets.
Once Hollywood left, Wade opened the Twister Museum on Main Street. It includes dozens of pictures and other memorabilia from the movie.
“He meant everything to the citizens of Wakita and I think this town meant a lot to him as well,” she said.
Through the years, Paxton donated items to the museum, like a Twister-themed pinball machine and the football he had on set, and he always included a hand written note.
“Paxton wrote ‘to the citizens of Wakita, thanks for making me feel at home,'” Wade read from one of the letters.
Wade said visitors come to the museum daily – especially during Oklahoma’s storm season. She said they come from neighboring towns and as far away as the Netherlands.
“Wakita is the mecca of Twister now,” she said. “All of the storm chasers come and everyone knew and loved Paxton.”
Wade said each year, the town holds a Twister anniversary in conjunction with the Cherokee Strip Celebration in September. This year, she said they will honor Paxton.
Scenes from Twister were also shot in other Oklahoma towns, including Pauls Valley, Ponca City, Maysville, Norman and Guthrie.