Alexis Arquette, an actress and transgender activist, died Sunday while surrounded by members of Hollywood’s famous Arquette family.
Arquette was 47. Brother Richmond Arquette and brother-in-law Todd Morgan confirmed the death to CNN.
Arquette was best known for film roles, including one in “The Wedding Singer” and another in “Pulp Fiction.”
Born Robert, Arquette was the sibling of actors Rosanna, David and Patricia Arquette.
A 2007 film about her transition to becoming a woman, “Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother,” was popular on the film festival circuit.
The family released the following statement on Richmond Arquette’s Facebook page:
“Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.
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, Of Mice and Men, The Wedding Singer, and The Bride of Chucky. 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.
She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.
She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s “Starman” as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.
Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honor of Alexis Arquette.
Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”
In February, actor David Arquette reportedly said during an appearance on “Kocktails with Khloe” that Alexis no longer identified as transgender.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, sometimes I’ll be a man, sometimes I’ll be a woman. I like to refer to myself as gender suspicious,'” David Arquette said.
Richmond Arquette wrote that Alexis was with brothers, sisters, a niece and “several other loved ones” at the end. David Bowie’s song “Starman” was playing.
Richmond Arquette described Alexis to CNN as “a force” who “died as he lived, on his own terms” and said he was happy to have been “with him as he began his journey onward.”
A cause of death was not specified.
Alexis Arquette began acting at an early age. Her first role was as a transvestite named Georgette in the 1989 film “Last Exit to Brooklyn.”
She would go on to appear in dozens of roles from low-budget movies to television roles.
Arquette was one of the earliest high-profile advocates for transgender rights and said she identified with being a woman at a young age.
In 2009 she told Dr. Drew Pinksy during an interview on “Larry King Live” that she was born into “a pretty liberal family.”
“I’ve worn makeup since I was 12,” Arquette said. “They weren’t in denial so much as their fear was that if I came out as transgender and live my life as a woman that might receive a lot of flak from people on the street.”
On Sunday Patricia Arquette tweeted “Breaking through the veil singing Starman” with a link to that Bowie song, and “My first best friend – Cosmic Dancer” with a link to the T. Rex song.
Actress Roseanne Barr tweeted, “Hail hail a vagenius has vacated this realm! RIP Alexis Arquette.” Barr included a photo of Arquette backstage at Barr’s talk show in 1999.
Singer Boy George also paid homage to Arquette, who famously portrayed a Boy George-inspired singer in the 1998 film “The Wedding Singer.”
“R.I.P. my sister Alexis Arquette,” Boy George tweeted. “Another bright light gone out far too soon. Love to the family and all that loved Alexis.”