In Memoriam: Rip Torn (1931-2019)
A sad bit of news to report from the House today. Earlier this week film and television fans lost one of the great character actors of all time as actor Rip Torn passed away Tuesday at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut at the age of eighty-eight.
Born Elmore Rual “Rip” Torn Jr. on February 6, 1931 in Temple, Texas, Torn was the son of Elmore Rual “Tiger” Torn Sr. an agriculturist and Mary Torn. Torn graduated from Texas University where he studied acting under noted Shakespeare teacher B. Iden Payne. After a stint in the army where he was a member of the military police, Torn moved to Hollywood to begin his acting career in earnest.
Torn made his film debut with 1956’s film Baby Doll where he had an uncredited role as a dentist. Over the next seven decades, Rip Torn would appear in numerous films and television shows as well as ten Broadway plays, earning a Tony Award nomination in 1959 for Sweet Bird of Youth. Torn also earned an Academy Award nomination for his role as Marsh Turner in director Martin Ritt’s 1984 film Cross Creek. However, Torn may be most remembered for his role as Artie in HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show where he was nominated for an Emmy six times, winning in 1996.
In all Torn would appear in over ninety films during the course of his illustrious career as well as over thirty television shows. Rip Torn’s last film performance came in 2013’s Johnny Kidd while his final television role came in 2016 as a voice on the Comedy Central animated show Trip Tank.
Rip Torn was no stranger to controversy during his acting career famously striking director Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer during the filming of 1970’s Maidstone. Torn was also arrested for burglary and criminal trespass in 2010.
Torn was married three times and had six children and four grandchildren. He leaves behind his wife of thirty years, actress Amy Wright.
Personally, I will always remember Torn for his role as the cantankerous Zed from the Men In Black series as well as the dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan from the 2004 film Dodgeball.
R.I.P. Mr. Torn. You will be missed.