Rip Torn, a prolific character actor whose movie career on the stage and the large and small screen spanned seven decades, passed away Tuesday at the age of 88, Deadline reported. Torn had more than 200 movie and television credits and lived a long and colorful life that included a 2010 incident when he broke into a bank, believing it was his home.
The actor, whose real name was Elmore Rual “Rip” Torn, Jr., was an Oscar nominee and Emmy winner, and his best-known roles were on The Larry Sanders Show, and in latter-day movies such as DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Men in Black, and Defending Your Life.
Torn was born in Texas in 1931, and actress Sissy Spacek was his first cousin. He studied acting at the University of Texas and later served in the U.S. Army.
The actor made his film debut in Baby Doll, in 1956, and soon headed for New York, where he studied under the legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg. His early movie roles included Pork Chop Hill, A Face in the Crowd, and King of Kings, and he made his Broadway debut in Sweet Bird of Youth in 1959.
In the 1960s, Torn appeared in The Cincinnati Kid, and in the mid-1970s, he co-starred with David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth.
By the ’80s, Torn was appearing regularly in comedies, including the Airplane movies, and the John Candy vehicle Summer Rental. He would get his only Oscar nomination for Cross Creek, in 1984. In 1991, Torn played Albert Brooks’ lawyer, in heaven, in Defending Your Life.
Perhaps Torn’s most acclaimed role was that of Artie, the cynical, seen-it-all producer of the show-within-a-show on The Larry Sanders Show, from 1992 through 1998. Torn was nominated for six Emmy Awards for the part, winning one in 1996.
In his later years, Torn played the main characters’ boss in the first two Men in Black movies, and Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. He also appeared on several episodes of 30 Rock, which earned him the ninth and final Emmy Award of his career. His final role was in 2013’s Johnny Kidd.
Rip Torn was Sissy Spacek’s cousin, Geraldine Page’s husband, got into a knife fight with Dennis Hopper, was arrested for robbing a bank and took the Larry Sanders job because he owed his family “a lot of money.” This @THR obituary is….quite something. https://t.co/SyNuuZtIWD
— Matthew Belloni (@THRMattBelloni) July 10, 2019
Following the 2010 bank incident, per Fox News, the then-81-year-old Torn pled guilty to charges of reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and the illegal carrying of a firearm.
Torn had six children, across his three marriages. Per Deadline, the actor died “surrounded by family at his home” in Connecticut.
A Twitter account called Rip Torn Outlives had, for the last several years, listed the death of celebrities and pointed out that the actor had outlived them. Upon Torn’s death, the account listed only three dots, in remembrance:
— Rip Torn Outlives (@RipTornOutlives) July 10, 2019