Beloved Character Actor Rip Torn Dies at Age 88
We at ComingSoon.net are sad to report that beloved character actor Rip Torn has passed away at age 88. According to his publicist (via The New York Times) torn passed away at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut where he is survived his wife, six children, four grandchildren and a sister. Torn’s career spanned six decades, but he was perhaps best known for his later work in a string of comedies such as Defending Your Life, Dodgeball and the Men in Black franchise, as well as a six year turn as brash producer Artie on The Larry Sanders Show for which he was nominated for six Emmy Awards, winning one in 1996.
Born as Elmore Rual Torn Jr. in Texas in 1931, began his work in film for director Elia Kazan in 1956’s Baby Doll. Around this time he also joined The Actor’s Studio in New York and began a long association with playwright Tennessee Williams, appearing in the original Broadway cast of Sweet Bird of Youth (and later in the film version). He landed supporting roles in classic films such as 1959’s Pork Chop Hill opposite Gregory Peck, 1957’s A Face in the Crowd opposite Andy Griffith, 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid opposite Steve McQueen, and memorably as Judas in the 1961 biblical epic King of Kings.
The part of George Hanson in 1969’s smash hit Easy Rider was written for Torn, but a row between Torn and director/star Dennis Hopper in a New York restaurant cost him the role which ultimately went to Jack Nicholson. Decades later Hopper went on The Tonight Show in 1994 and claimed Torn pulled a knife on him during the argument, leading Torn to file a defamation lawsuit in which he claimed it was Hopper who pulled a knife on him. After an appeal, Hopper was ordered to pay Torn nearly a million dollars in damages.
In the 70’s and 80’s Torn had several interesting roles, including one opposite David Bowie in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, as the villain in 1982’s cult fantasy The Beastmaster, and an Academy Award-nominated turn in the 1983 drama Cross Creek.
His role as an afterlife attorney in Albert Brooks’ brilliant 1991 film Defending Your Life gave Torn a new niche doing comedies. It led to his beloved role as Artie on Garry Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show and his part as Zed in the first two Men in Black films. He played a pretentious author in 2000’s Wonder Boys, an abusive father in Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered in 2001 and cantankerous coach Patches O’Houlihan in 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He also voiced Zeus in Disney’s Hercules and another animation role in Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie.
In television he had a recurring role on the sitcoms Will & Grace and 30 Rock, and appeared on classic shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Columbo.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)