I don’t know if heaven has a general manager. But if there is, that person should probably consider moving on to heaven’s accounting department, because prolific authority figure Rip Torn, who passed away yesterday, is now clearly the best person for the job. He’s practically done it once already.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Rip Torn, who was born as Elmore Rual Torn Jr., died peacefully at his home in Connecticut. He leaves behind his wife of thirty years, actress Amy Wright, six children, and four grandchildren.
Rip Torn was born in Texas and moved to Hollywood in the mid-1950s. He acted in various Broadway and Off-Broadway plays (he was nominated for a Featured Actor in a Play Tony in 1960), as well as a ton of TV shows and movies throughout the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, like bit parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Bonanza. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1984 for Cross Creek.
The 90s are where Rip Torn became the Rip Torn we all know. It was like all of a sudden, Rip Torn woke up one morning in a suit and tie, furrowed his eyebrows, and was just like, “Well, looks like I’m playing the guy in charge now.” Rip played a defense attorney in Defending Your Life, the CEO in RoboCop 3, a General in Canadian Bacon, Zeus in Disney’s Hercules, Zed in Men in Black and Men in Black 2, Louis XV in Marie Antoinette, Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball, Lionel on Will & Grace, Jack Donaghy’s boss Don Geiss on 30 Rock.
His best-known boss role is probably as Artie, Larry Sanders’ crusty executive producer on The Larry Sanders Show. Rip reportedly wasn’t that interested in the role, but claims he took it because he owed his family “a lot of money.” Rip played Artie for all six seasons, and was nominated every year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards (he won in 1996). There’s no end to the Artie compilations online, but here’s a start:
What might be the best part of Rip Torn was his personal life. Strap in, you’re in for a real journey. Rip was married three times, the second time to Geraldine Page from 1963 until her death in 1987. While filming Maidstone in 1970, Rip reportedly came at director Norman Mailer during an improvised fight scene with a hammer, hitting him in the head. Rip helped to launch the career of his cousin, Sissy Spacek. Rip sued Dennis Hopper in 1994 after Dennis told a story on The Tonight Show in which he claimed Rip Torn pulled a knife on him on the set of Easy Rider, and that Rip was fired and replaced by Jack Nicholson. Rip won, and Dennis Hopper had to pay Rip $950,000 in damages. And of course, who could forget back in 2010, when a drunk as a skunk Rip broke into a bank after thinking it was his house (understandable).
Actually, after going over that list, I’d say he’d also make a pretty good after-life survivalist coach. After all, he appears to know his way around various weapons and tools.
Rest in peace, Rip. Or better yet – RIP, Rip.