Transgender Actress, Musician, and Cabaret Performer Alexis Arquette Dead at Age 47

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Alexis Arquette arrives for the Wrap Party For SYFY Networks' 'Monster Man' Season 2 held at Rolling Stone Restaurant And Lounge on April 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Alexis Arquette arrives for the Wrap Party For SYFY Networks’ ‘Monster Man’ Season 2 held at Rolling Stone Restaurant And Lounge on April 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Transgender actress, musician, and cabaret performer Alexis Arquette — sister to actors Rosanna, Patricia, David, and Richmond Arquette — has passed away at age 47. Richmond confirmed the news via his personal Facebook page Sunday morning.

“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:23am,” Richmond posted. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loves ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s ‘Starman.’ As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”

David Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Alexis Arquette, Richmond Arquette and Patricia Arquette attend the 2014 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles opening night screening of 'Sold' held at the ArcLight Cinemas on April 8, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
David Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Alexis Arquette, Richmond Arquette and Patricia Arquette attend the 2014 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles opening night screening of ‘Sold’ held at the ArcLight Cinemas on April 8, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Alexis Arquette was born Robert Arquette in Los Angeles on July 28, 1969, and transitioned to female in 2006. (Her transition was the subject of the film Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother, which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.) Arquette’s first professional acting job, at age 12, was playing the boy on the carnival ride in the Tubes’ “She’s a Beauty” music video, a major MTV hit in 1983.

Arquette later went on to score roles in the Bette Midler comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Pulp Fiction, Bride of Chucky, and more than 40 independent films. She also famously played a Boy George impersonator in two movies, 1998’s The Wedding Singer and 2014’s Blended. Boy George tweeted upon hearing the news of Arquette’s death.

Arquette was introduced to a wider audience in 2006, when she co-starred on the VH1 reality show The Surreal Life with Poison guitarist C. C. DeVille and Whitesnake video vixen Tawny Kitaen. Her TV appearance brought the transgender community increased visibility and awareness, years before Caitlin Jenner had her own reality show — most memorably in a scene depicting Arquette being harassed at a restaurant.

Arquette was also a popular drag and cabaret artist on the L.A. club circuit, sometimes performing as her drag alter ego, Eva Destruction. She was a regular at the hugely popular late-‘90s/early-2000s glam nightspot Club Makeup, created by Psychotica frontman Pat Briggs, which hosted all-star revues featuring Linda Perry, the Cult, Ice-T, Marilyn Manson, Ann Magnuson, Gilby Clarke, and other rockers.

Richmond Arquette’s Facebook post said Alexis’s passing was “fast and painless,” but did not provide details as to the cause of death. Patricia Arquette tweeted twice about Alexis on Sunday, but Alexis’s other two siblings have not commented at press time. TMZ reports that Alexis had been “battling an illness.”

UPDATE: The Arquette family has released the following moving statement via People:

“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.”