Episode 112: In the late 1960s, Tom Huckabee discovered a 16mm Bell & Howell movie camera in his father’s closet. Before long, Huckabee developed a reputation as “the guy who made movies,” he recalled. While attending Southwest High School, a Huckabee-directed student film earned first prize at a TCU film festival, which impressed fledgling actor Bill Paxton, who was attending nearby Arlington Heights High School. Huckabee and Paxton became friends. In 1974, they pooled their money and bought a Super 8 movie camera with sound. Their movies were bold, avante garde, and often abrasive. Many involved Paxton doing dangerous stunts while Huckabee filmed. They worked guerrilla style without permits and sometimes ran afoul of local police and city officials. After high school, Paxton and Huckabee settled in Hollywood and established themselves in the film industry. Paxton starred in some of filmdom’s biggest hits, including The Terminator, Aliens, Apollo 13, and Titanic. In 2007, Huckabee moved back to Fort Worth and became artistic director at the Lone Star Film Festival. His stint with the film fest was brief, but he has remained in town ever since. He and Paxton continued to work on projects until the actor’s unexpected death in 2017. A devastated Huckabee took time off to deal with the loss before throwing himself into several Paxton-related postmortem projects. My favorite is the Bill and John Paxton Sculpture Garden, an interactive art environment, recreation area, and contemplation center that Huckabee established on a vacant lot he owns at 26 Cliffside Drive next to his house in Edgecliff Village. Bill Paxton’s father, John, was a wealthy Fort Worth businessman who moved to Hollywood and became an actor late in life. Both Paxtons were colorful, charismatic, and successful men who were a blast to hang out with. Huckabee is an interesting character himself, and his sculpture garden is unlike most others. Check it out sometime. Admission is free but donations are welcome. Pets are invited, too, and might have fun playing with Huckabee’s security cat, Hypatia, who prowls the grounds when not resting on her golden throne. Paxton’s favorite rock band was the Doors, and Huckabee and I perform “Five to One” in his honor. Rest in peace, Bill and John, and thank you, Tom, for creating such a cool garden and sharing it with Toast & Jam viewers. — Jeff Prince
Home Blotch Around Fort Worth Toast & Jam with Tom Huckabee
Great job, Jeff and Wyatt. Thanks for having me. It was a blast working with you. Let’s make a feature.
I’ve done a parody of your show called “Roast and Ham,” which I’ll post soon. Jeff your rendition of Five to One is outstanding. John Paxton would say “it’s got hair on it.” His highest compliment for a work of art.
Maybe You let me play bass and we could be a blues band…
Yes, James Michael, it’s time to get the band back together. Can it be a psychedelic blues band, like the Doors, Cream, Canned Heat? And can we call it The Egyptian Nose Whistle?