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Terminator Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

As far as science fiction action franchises go, few have proven as well-loved — or as fiercely divisive — as "The Terminator" series. Now six films and one TV show strong, the love for franchise began, of course, with the landmark James Cameron flick that launched it in 1984, and only grew with Cameron's equally ground-breaking sequel, 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." Most of the franchise faithful tend to agree, though, that the ensuing chapters of "The Terminator" saga have been more miss than hit, with Cameron himself largely staying out of the action since "T2." 

Varying quality aside, an impressive list of actors have continued to populate the technophobic "Terminator" narrative over the years. While the central players in the fray (i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, etc.) are still around and kicking machine butt, some notable talents from the franchise have sadly departed the mortal realm. Here are the "Terminator" actors you may not have known passed away. 

Paul Winfield (1939 - 2004)

Born in 1939, Paul Winfield earned his first acting credit with a supporting turn on the small screen hit "Perry Mason" circa 1965. Over the next four decades, he'd become one of the best respected actors in Hollywood, earning raves for his work in dozens of film and television projects, with career highlights including a key role in 1982's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn," a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for 1972's "Sounder," and an Emmy win for his guest spot on "Picket Fences" (per IMDb).

In case there were any question, "The Terminator" is very much among Winfield's career highlights, too, as it remains arguably the biggest film the actor ever appeared in. "The Terminator" also features one of the best performances of Paul Winfield's career, with the actor brining a welcome depth to the whip-smart LAPD detective tasked with cracking the case of all the various brutally murdered women named Sarah Connors — and looking out for the unexpectedly alive one — before looking on in disbelief as the titular killing machine turns up to crack (more than) the case for him.

As reported by the New York Times, Winfield tragically died in 2004 from a heart attack, at the age of 62.

Dick Miller (1928 - 2019)

One might easily argue the term "character actor" exists because of actors like Dick Miller. All that really means is you might not actually know Miller's name, even if you've almost certainly seen him, and enjoyed his work in dozens of film and television appearances over the years. As for Miller's big screen resume, he was maybe one of the most underrated supporting players in the history of film, first appearing in several of B-movie master Roger Corman's best known films, including 1960's "Little Shop of Horrors" (the original, not the musical version), 1975's "Death Race 2000," and 1977's "Rock & Roll High School."

Miller would go on to work with the likes of Martin Scorsese ("New York New York," "After Hours"), and Steven Spielberg ("1941"), but he was probably best known for work in more genre-centric fare like "Gremlins," "The Howling," "Piranha," "A Bucket of Blood," and "'The 'Burbs." Regarding his turn in "The Terminator," fans of the film would no doubt agree the scene where his unsuspecting, and ill-fated pawn shop owner sells Schwarzenegger's T-800 his arsenal is among its many highlights. 

Milled lived to be 90 years old, per Variety, passing away in 2019.

Bill Paxton (1955 - 2017)

Prior to his unexpected passing, Bill Paxton had amassed a whopping 100 screen credits (via IMDb). Over his decades-long career, Paxton had also carved out one of the most adventurous, and well-rounded resumes in Hollywood, appearing in films and television projects too numerous and too varied to list here. Several of his most notable performances, of course, came in films helmed by James Cameron, including scene-stealing turns in 1985's "Aliens," 1994's "True Lies," and 1997's "Titanic."

That fruitful partnership began with Paxton's brief appearance in "The Terminator." If you're having trouble placing his face in the film, you might need to picture the actor with spiky, electric blue hair and a wise-guy grin on his face. Yes, that was Bill Paxton portraying one of the unfortunate punks (alongside legendary cult actor Brian Thompson) who encounter Schwarzenegger's big, bad, and buck-naked cyborg in the early moments of "The Terminator." It was a small role, yes, but Paxton made the most of the moment, bolstering one of the film's funnier scenes with all the wit, wisdom, and charisma he'd become renowned for.    

At age 61, Paxton underwent heart surgery in 2017 (per CNN), and he passed away days later.

Anton Yelchin (1989 - 2016)

It's been almost six years since the tragic, accidental death of Anton Yelchin, and it's still difficult to process that he's no longer with us. At the time of his death, Yelchin (who began acting at the age of 11) was very much a superstar on the rise, having built an impressive reputation as an adult on the indie film scene via films like 2006's "Alpha Dog," 2013's "Only Lovers Left Alive," and 2018's "Green Room." He also made a splash in the blockbuster realm, largely due to his role as Chekov in the rebooted "Star Trek" franchise.

As it happens, 2009 was very much a blockbuster year for Yelchin, as he not only made his "Star Trek" debut, but also joined "The Terminator" franchise for its divisive (per Rotten Tomatoes) fourth chapter, "Terminator: Salvation." He did so as the teenaged Kyle Reese, who'd play as major a role in the overarching narrative as anyone by fathering resistance leader John Connor in the first "Terminator" flick. In a suitably time-twisty bit of storytelling Yelchin's Reese is depicted in "Salvation" as fighting alongside John (Christian Bale), with the actor bringing some welcome "awe-shucks" vibes to the otherwise bombast-or-bust blockbuster.   

Leslie Hamilton Freas (1956 - 2020)

With its savvy blend of grounded, character-driven storytelling, and jaw-dropping special effects, James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" is rightfully regarded as not just the best film in the franchise, but one of the best action films ever made. Likewise, Linda Hamilton's ass-kicking turn as Sarah Connor in the film helped make both her, and her character into action icons for generations to come. Much has naturally been said about both "Terminator 2" and Hamilton over the years, but there's still a lot that many viewers don't know about the making of the film.

For instance, many fans don't realize that, (1) Linda Hamilton had an identical twin sister, and (2) said sister, Leslie, actually appeared in a couple of pivotal scenes in "T2," which was her lone big screen credit prior to her 2020 passing. Leslie turned up in "T2" essentially as a mirror version of her sister's character, doing so in the horrifying dream sequence where Sarah watches a nuclear blast decimate a playground, the scene where Sarah reprograms Schwarzenegger's good-guy T-800, and in the film's finale when the shape-shifting T-1000 mimics Sarah herself. As a creative decision, utilizing Hamilton's exact double in those scenes was a particular bit of genius from Cameron. And the other Hamilton sister more than held her own in her abbreviated big screen tenure.   

According to Today, Leslie Hamilton Freas died in 2020. She was 63 years old.

Chino "Fats" Williams (1933 - 2000)

It's definitely a safe bet that most of the movie-loving world does not know the name Chino "Fats" Williams. But that obviously doesn't mean they've never enjoyed his work in film and television, as he appeared in several notable works between 1974 and his 2000 passing. Chief among them were turns in the first three "Rocky" movies, the popular "Top Gun" knockoff "Iron Eagle," Goldie Hawn's beloved sports comedy "Wildcats," and Patrick Swayze's cult-hit actioner "Road House." Truthfully, though, Williams is probably best remembered for his appearance as "Fats" in the now infamous bar scene from "Weird Science," which was borderline offensive in 1985 and has really not aged well at all, to say the least. 

That relatively high-profile appearance may have helped Williams get cast in "The Terminator," with James Cameron tabbing the distinctive actor to portray a surly, cigar-chomping garbage man in the film. Like Bill Paxton, Williams's scene is more or less included as a sort of comic relief, with his character witnessing the time-jumping arrival of one the film's central players. And as far as one-line big screen appearances go, "The Terminator" fandom can surely agree that Williams' is one for the ages.  

As reported by The Los Angeles Times, Williams passed away at the age of 66.