Bill Paxton Witnessed JFK's Final Public Speech in Person

Art Rickerby/Time & Life Pictures
President John F. Kennedy greets a large crowd of supporters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963.

"I couldn't believe how red his hair was."

Bill Paxton had an illustrious career of acting, but there was something else unique about him: He saw President John F. Kennedy give his final speech to the public on the day he was assassinated. 

The actor, known for his numerous roles in blockbusters, like Aliens, Titanic and Twister, died Sunday. He was 61.

Paxton, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, begged his father to take him and his brother to see JFK speak on that fateful day in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963. 

Kennedy was delivering a speech to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, but before he did that, he gave a speech to a crowd of thousands outside the hotel where he and his wife, Jackie, were staying. An 8-year-old Paxton was in the crowd. 

"It was amazing to see President Kennedy because I had mostly seen him on television in black and white, and there he was in living color and I couldn't believe how red his hair was," Paxton said in a previous interview at Texas Christian University. "And he was in very good spirits. He made a joke about Jackie not being there because she took a little bit longer to get ready, but she looked a lot better." 

Paxton said he was a little too young to really appreciate what the president was saying, but he would never forget the feeling. 

"It was really just a euphoric crowd," he said. 

Paxton was at school when he and the other children got the news Kennedy had been shot. 

"I came in off the recess playground, I was going to St. Alice ... I remember the nuns were all crying, and they told us to put our heads down on our desks and then not long after news came in on the radio that he had died." 

See the full interview below.

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