Rip Torn, legendary Emmy-winning actor of HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show and countless iconic films, has passed away. He was 88.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Torn died peacefully at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut. His wife Amy Wright and his daughters, Katie Torn and Angelica Page, were by his side.
Born in Temple, Texas on February 6th, 1931, Elmore Rual “Rip” Torn Jr. studied acting at the University of Texas before serving in the Military Police in the United States Army. His cousin was Sissy Spacek, who he helped bring to the entertainment business by enrolling her in New York’s Actors Studio.
A veteran performer at nearly every level of entertainment, from film to television to theater, Torn amassed a resume that can best be described as “eclectic.” For instance, one of his earliest roles was alongside the great Gregory Peck in 1959’s Pork Chop Hill and one of his latest was next to alternative comic Tom Green in 2001’s Freddy Got Fingered. He was game for anything.
All of which is to say why you could revisit his Oscar-nominated turn in 1983’s Cross Creek just as quickly as you could laugh at his caricature-like performance in 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Among his countless highlights include must-see roles in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth alongside David Bowie, 1993’s Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks, and, yes, as Zed in the Men In Black trilogy.
Of course, his most notable role was as Artie in HBO’s groundbreaking series The Larry Sanders Show. Co-starring alongside the late Gary Shandling, Torn portrayed his ever-loving producer, whose irascible nature and love for Salty Dogs made him one of TV’s greatest characters. He was nominated for an Emmy six times, winning one, and somehow being the only name in the series to walk away with a trophy.
On stage, Torn was just as prolific, having appeared in 10 Broadway plays and directed one. It’s perhaps here that Torn truly made a name for himself, seeing how his debut in 1959’s Sweet Bird of Youth secured him a Theater World Award and a Tony nomination. Other noteworthy moments included his Obie-winning turn in 1967’s The Deer Park and his first and only directing gig in 1973 on Look Away.
Never one to buck the controversial, Torn became something of a behind-the-scenes legend. He once struck Norman Mailer with a hammer while filming 1970’s Maidstone and got into all sorts of legal trouble with Easy Rider director Dennis Hopper.
Iconic and irreplaceable, Torn is survived by his sister Patricia Alexander; his third wife Amy Wright; his six children; and his four grandchildren.