Last week, The Paris News carried a story I wrote about Paris High School graduate D.J. Pierce and his involvement in an HBO series that was recently nominated for an Emmy Award. As part of that story I had originally included a paragraph or two about Pierce’s reaction to the death last month of another former Paris resident, Ash Christian.
“I talked with Ash Christian less than a week before he died,” he said. “We had worked on a film called ‘Hurricane Bianca,’ and we were making plans to work together again. We talked about our times at PHS and about our lives in Paris, Texas. We always said that one day, both of us will be on the front page of The Paris News. I hope to dedicate the Emmy to him, if we win. I’ll miss him.”
Pierce told me that he and Christian both attended Paris High School, though not at the same time. He said he had known who Christian was back then, and that Christian had told him the same thing, but they had not been friends before they both left their childhood hometown.
Pierce said he and Christian spoke from time to time after they met again in Hollywood, on the set of a movie Christian was producing and Pierce had a supporting role in.
Those paragraphs, however, were edited for space, as can be the case with news articles in print.
I had heard about Christian’s death, and I had planned to ask Pierce if he had known Christian when they were younger and to get a quote from him, but he beat me to it, bringing up his friend’s death before I could raise the question.
Christian spent a number of years in Paris as a child and a young teen, and I remember his name being mentioned by other Paris Community Theatre members, but I confess, I did not know the youngster at all. I did a lot more shows every season at PCT back in those days, and I can tell you lots of tales about the shows I was part of, but I did not spend any time around the children’s theatre rehearsals at all. Yes, I did a few shows that had kids in them, but not many, and I have never voluntarily spent a lot of time with other people’s children (too loud, usually, and too unruly). I do remember, vaguely, hearing that a kid named Ash was making a name for himself in children’s theatre, but that was it.
After he left Texas to move to Hollywood to act and to eventually write, direct and produce plays and films, Ash Christian never showed up on my radar again. He won a Daytime Emmy in 2014 as producer of “mI Promise,” produced or co-produced more than 30 projects, founded his own production company, and had acted in small parts in more than 30 films and TV series.
He was only 35 years old when he died.
I wish I had been aware of what he had been doing, I would have liked to have talked to him for a piece in his hometown newspaper. It’s always interesting to hear about kids from Paris who grow up and make names for themselves out in the world.
Ash Christian did appear in The Paris News, though. We did a piece on him about his efforts at age 5 to raise funds for soldiers fighting in the Gulf War, and Mary Madewell talked to him in 2003 after he made the move to Hollywood to break into the industry.
I don’t know if those stories were on the front page or not. The old papers we keep in storage here at the plant are packed away in an un-air-conditioned place, too hard to get to, but now that the weather is cooling off, finally, I plan to dig them out and see.