R.I.P. Rip Torn, a scene stealer in everything from The Larry Sanders Show to Columbo
The veteran character actor died at 88.
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Whatever the role, Rip Torn stood out. Blessed with one of the coolest names in the business — he was born Elmore Rual Torn Jr.; Rip was a traditional Torn family nickname — used with his gruff Texan accent and expressive eyebrows to become an all-time great character actor, spanning generations.
His lines became catchphrases. In Dodgeball, his Patches O'Houlihan barked, "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!" He was the one chosen to deliver "We are the Men in Black" in Men in Black. As a supporting actor, he was able to hold his own alongside immortal icons like Steve McQueen (The Cincinnati Kid) and David Bowie (The Man Who Fell to Earth).
The Texas native made his screen debut in 1956 and appeared in early classics such as 12 O'Clock High, Rawhide, Mannix, Bonanza, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But his career found new life in the early '90s as Torn honed his onscreen persona to a type. Typically, you think of him sporting a dark suit and a goatee, as a brash but lovable boss.
The Larry Sanders Show, on which he played Artie the producer, cemented this image of Rip Torn, as he went on to earn six Emmy Nominations, winning one. But if you rewind his reel a year earlier, to the 1991 Albert Brooks afterlife gem Defending Your Life, you'll find him in quite a similar role as defense lawyer Bob Diamond.
That same year, he starred as a convertible-driving, wig-wearing killer on Columbo, playing a pompous thespian in "Death Hits the Jackpot." You can see him in that role up top.
A fearless actor, Torn could swing from zany comedy (few others could gracefully handle material in both Airplane II: The Sequel and Freddy Got Fingered) and dramatic biopics (he earned an Oscar nomination for his work in 1983's Cross Creek).
On Tuesday, Torn passed away, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 88.