Alexis Arquette was born on July 28, 1969, in Los Angeles, California. Part of the Arquette acting dynasty, Alexis was born a biological male, later living openly as a transgender female. During her extensive screen career, she had roles in films like Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Wedding Singer as well as the TV program The Surreal Life, also performing live in drag as Eva Destruction. More recently, she appeared on the hit Showtime series Californication as well as the films Blended and Getting Back to Zero. Arquette died on September 11, 2016 at the age of 47. No cause of death has been released.
Actress and entertainer Alexis Arquette was born Robert Arquette on July 28, 1969, in Los Angeles, California, to veteran actor Lewis Arquette and poet Mardi Arquette. Born a biological male, Alexis gravitated toward the feminine at an early age. "I remember Alexis growing up, and we'd be in school in kindergarten, and they'd say, 'Get in line, boys here, girls here.' Alexis would always get in the girls' line," sister Patricia Arquette explained to the Los Angeles Times in 2008. Over time, Alexis was able to live her life openly as a transgender female.
Film and TV Roles
Alexis came to be known as part of the Arquette acting dynasty. Her father, Lewis, was a character actor who is perhaps best remembered for his recurring role as J.D. Pickett on the family drama The Waltons in the late 1970s and early '80s. Her oldest sister Rosanna shot to fame in the mid-'80s with the hit film Desperately Seeking Susan. Her other siblings—Patricia, David and Richmond—soon started trying to launch their own acting careers. Alexis followed suit, landing a bit part in the comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986). She had a more substantial role a few years later in Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990), playing Georgette, a young urban denizen who becomes romantically interested in a local tough guy.
Arquette continued to work as an actress, appearing in a string of films over the years, most of them independent works. Some of her more notable roles include playing a gay college student in Threesome (1994) and a Boy George lookalike in the romantic comedy The Wedding Singer (1998), starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. She also had a bit part as a failed assassin in the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction (1994), which also featured sister Rosanna.
Performing in drag, Arquette built up quite a following with her stage alter ego Eva Destruction, also being featured in Wigstock: The Movie (1995) about New York’s annual drag festival. On the small screen, Arquette landed guest spots on numerous shows, including Felicity, Xena: The Warrior Princess and Friends.
'Surreal Life' and Documentary
More recently, Arquette had parts in such films as The Movie Hero (2003) and Lords of Dogtown (2005). She also appeared as herself in the celebrity reality show The Surreal Life, which filmed the interactions between famous people who are forced to live in a house together. On the show, Arquette shared a home with a number of stars, including Florence Henderson of Brady Bunch fame; rocker C.C. DeVille from the hair metal band Poison; and actress/model Tawny Kitaen.
The next year, she starred in the documentary Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother (2007). The film covers the first steps of the actress' sex-reassignment operation along with some of her personal history, highlighting cultural ideas around gender as well.
In addition to her work, Arquette also supported her siblings' endeavors. She, along with her sisters Patricia and Rosanna and her then sister-in-law Courteney Cox, attended the premiere of David's short film The Butler's In Love (2008), which also featured their brother Richmond in the role of the unnamed husband. Arquette also appeared in the Showtime series Californication, starring David Duchovny, and portrayed the character Ms. Independence in the romantic comedy Hard Breakers (2010). And Arquette co-starred in the gambling flick Getting Back to Zero (2013) and another Barrymore/Sandler comedy, Blended (2014).
Death and Remembrance
Arquette died during the early morning hours of September 11, 2016 at the age of 47. The actress/performer passed while surrounded by family with David Bowie's "Starman" playing in the background. Patricia Arquette tweeted a music clip of "Starman" as well as T.Rex's "Cosmic Dancer" in honor of her sister. No cause of death was immediately given.
"Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like Last Exit to Brooklyn, Pulp Fiction, Jumpin' at the Boneyard..., ” her siblings said in an official statement. “Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people."
"We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman," they later added. "We came to discover the one truth – that love is everything."
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