Emmy winner Rip Torn, 88

Font Size

EMMY WINNER Rip Torn, whose tempestuous nature made him a compelling character actor on the screen and stage but sometimes caused him trouble on the set and in private life, died on Tuesday at the age of 88, media reports said. Torn, whose late-career resurgence included a key role on US TV’s The Larry Sanders Show and in the movies Men in Black and Dodgeball, died peacefully at his home, his family told the Hollywood Reporter and other media. The cause was not disclosed, but he was surrounded by his wife, actress Amy Wright, known for Stardust Memories and The Accidental Tourist, and his daughters, media reports said. Torn showed great range in his career but with a crooked grin, gruff voice and devilish glint in his eyes, he was especially well suited to playing bad boys and unpredictable characters. He often made headlines because of his volatility. He blamed his dismissal from a production of Macbeth on “friends” of the administration of President Richard Nixon, who Torn would later portray in the television mini-series Blind Ambition. Later in life came alcohol-related incidents, including an arrest in 2010 for breaking into a closed bank that he had mistaken for his home in Salisbury, Connecticut. Torn was born in Temple, Texas, on Feb. 6, 1931, and grew up with aspirations of being a farmer before discovering drama at the University of Texas. Torn was a good fit for Tennessee Williams’ plays, such as portraying the menacing Tom Jr. in Sweet Bird of Youth, which earned him a Tony nomination. He reprised the role in a movie in 1962 and also played Big Daddy in a 1984 TV production of Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His work in Cross Creek, a 1984 film, earned him an Academy Award nomination. From 1992 through 1998 he had the scene-stealing role of Artie, the all-knowing producer on The Larry Sanders Show, Garry Shandling’s satiric take on late-night TV. Torn won an Emmy in 1996 and was nominated five other times for the role. A run on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock brought Torn another Emmy nomination in 2008. Torn, who helped his cousin Sissy Spacek start her movie career, had six children in his three marriages. — Reuters