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.
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R.I.P Rip Torn. He was so great in Defending Your Life. I’ll miss you Rip, you were a true original.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) July 10, 2019
Just heard the sad news that the great Rip Torn has passed away. Rip was a class act. He was an incredible actor. One of the greats. A true legend. I am proud to have worked with him and to have known him. Rest in peace Rip.
— Tom Green (@tomgreenlive) July 10, 2019
“Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything. Real feeling, true happiness, real joy, they can’t get through that fog. But you lift it … buddy you’re in for the ride of your life.” – Rip Torn in “Defending Your Life” Rest in peace Rip.
— Tom Green (@tomgreenlive) July 10, 2019
As a young filmmaker I was blown away by Rip Torn’s performance in PAYDAY. We became friends working together on THE BEASTMASTER. I’ll always look back fondly on meeting up at his little crash pad for lunches in Malibu- and the great Hollywood stories he’d tell. RIP dear friend. pic.twitter.com/oE4e1j566S
— Don Coscarelli (@DonCoscarelli) July 10, 2019
Rip Torn in “Sweet Bird of Youth,” 1959. pic.twitter.com/OTqV2RlMrZ
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) July 10, 2019
RIP Rip Torn. Throwing children into fires with God now. pic.twitter.com/J6eEgxJycw
— Eric Szyszka (@ericszyszka) July 10, 2019
Rip Torn was incredible. His work on The Larry Sanders Show was hysterical but nothing is better than the way he says “Big Bear” in Defending Your Life. I still laugh just thinking about it.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) July 10, 2019
Rip Torn, I spent time on a couple of sets with him. I knew his wife Ann Wedgeworth she played my mom twice in different projects.She was just wonderful.Our younger generation of actors may not know of Rip or Ann but they should. Rip as unique an actor as any1 could ever hope 2b. pic.twitter.com/zBgMf9kea5
— Vincent D’Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) July 10, 2019
During roughly a two year period from 1968-70, Rip Torn literally embodied the exploded boundary between fiction and nonfiction, discipline and chaos, creative daring and ill-advised lunacy. Whether or not the ensuing eras and collaborators were worthy, he kept bringing it. pic.twitter.com/pvlGYUtufo
— Eric Hynes (@eshynes) July 10, 2019
Rest In Peace Rip Torn. Oh my God, you made me laugh.
— Bradley Whitford (@WhitfordBradley) July 10, 2019
Rip Torn’s role as Bob Diamond in @AlbertBrooks’s DEFENDING YOUR LIFE is one of the ALL TIME GREATEST PERFORMANCES EVER.
I may have been late to Torn’s work but after film that I was a fan forever. Thank you for just one or so many iconic roles. #RIPRip pic.twitter.com/wgSCz30Ff9
— Joe Lynch (@TheJoeLynch) July 10, 2019
Everybody is praising Rip Torn for his turn as Artie on The Larry Sanders Show…and they should. It’s one of the finest roles in the history of TV comedy (sometimes hyperbole is called for). And don’t sleep on him in a great poker movie, The Cincinnati Kid. pic.twitter.com/GrXayfr5iV
— Ben Mankiewicz (@BenMank77) July 10, 2019
Saddened to learn about the passing of actor Rip Torn tonight. It goes without saying how note perfect he was in our MEN IN BLACK films as Zed (Z), the no-nonsense head of the NYC MIB division in the first three films. Thank you for your talents and memorable performances, Rip. pic.twitter.com/UU3USdrC4s
— Amblin (@amblin) July 10, 2019
I met Rip Torn once, in 1990, on a movie location in NC. “You write science fiction?” he said, teeth in a scary grin. “I was in BEASTMASTER.” Then he shook my hand and I ceased to exist for him. That was the start of Mr Wednesday in American Gods. RIP Rip.https://t.co/Fp7fVKtrDp
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) July 10, 2019
Rip Torn always made me laugh. Artie and Bob Diamond were two utterly unforgettable characters.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) July 10, 2019
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)