Veteran US actor Rip Torn, best known for Men in Black, The Larry Sanders Show & 30 Rock, has died aged 88.
He died peacefully at his home in Connecticut, surrounded by family.
Torn played producer Artie on The Larry Sanders Show alongside Garry Shandling from 1992 – 1998, garnering an Emmy nomination for every one of its six seasons and winning in 1996.
Torn’s initial successes in New York in 1950s anthology shows Omnibus, Playhouse 90 and The United States Steel Hour.
He landed his first major movie role with Time Limit in 1957. A prolific career began to gain steam with Pork Chop Hill and King of Kings. He would go on to feature in Tropic of Cancer, Crazy Joe, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Coma, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Heartland, Yours, Mine & Ours, Cross Creek, The Beastmaster, Jinxed, Airplane II: The Sequel, Down Periscope, Welcome to Mooseport, The Man Who Fell to Earth and Cash. Torn also directed the 1988 Whoopi Goldberg feature The Telephone.
There was also a supporting role in two Men in Black films.
Torn had a recurring role on 30 Rock as the fictional CEO of General Electric. TV credits included The Untouchables, Route 66, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Columbo, Kojak, Mannix, Rawhide, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Blind Ambition, Sophia Loren: Her Own Story, Chicago Hope, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Will & Grace, Ghost Stories, The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.
There were Broadway roles in Sweet Bird of Youth, Daughter of Silence, Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude and Blues for Mister Charlie and more.
But he also displayed a tendency toward erratic behaviour, tangling with law enforcement repeatedly over drunken automobile collisions and he was arrested in 2010 after breaking into a closed bank while carrying a weapon.
Legend has it that he was all set for Jack Nicholson’s career-making role in Easy Rider in 1969 before things went awry. Dennis Hopper, the film’s director, said years later that Torn had pulled a knife on him in a diner, costing him the job. Torn said it was Hopper that pulled the knife on him and sued for libel, winning $475,000 in damages.
In an improvised fight seen in Maidstone in 1970, Torn attacked actor-director Norman Mailer with a tack hammer; Mailer then bit into Torn’s ear during the ensuing scrum.
Garry Shandling once said of him, “With Rip, he came in the first time, and his agent said he wouldn’t read. Weeks later, it was just him and me in a room with no one else, and I said to Rip, ‘Could we read half of this together?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want to read.’ I said, ‘That’s totally fine,’ and I pushed it to the side of the table.
“We talked for less than another minute, and he reached over and took the page, and he starts the scene. It’s like trying to describe a good date to a friend the next day. I had to say to HBO and everybody else, ‘Honestly, this is the best sex I have had.'”