Rip Torn, the force-of-nature actor who won an Emmy for his performance on The Larry Sanders Show, died Tuesday. He was 88.
His publicist announced that Torn died "peacefully at his home" in Lakeville, Connecticut, with his actress wife Amy Wright (b. 1950) and his daughters at his side.
Born February 6, 1931, in Temple, Texas, Elmore Rual Torn Jr. — his nickname Rip was self-given — studied at Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin, drifting from agriculture to architecture to drama. A trained Shakespearean actor and real-life tough guy with two years in the Army under his belt, he worked with Lee Strasberg (1901-1982) at his Actors Studio.
He made his first impression as Brick in the original production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). He debuted in a segment of the series Omnibus in 1956, and got his start in films with uncredited bits in Baby Doll (1956) and A Face in the Crowd (1957) before a proper role in Time Limit (1957).
He was Tony-nominated for Sweet Bird of Youth (1959).
Torn went on to appear on many series, and starred opposite Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) in the acclaimed Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life (1961), a rare TV role for the Hollywood star.
Harassed by the FBI for his anti-war views, Torn found his film career in jeopardy; it also was not helped by his legendary volatility, which included a heated confrontation with Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) that kept him out of Easy Rider (1969).
Even when he worked for the money, Torn elevated the eclectic films in which he appeared, specializing in playing intense, seedy characters in such dramas as The Cincinnati Kid (1965) and Coming Apart (1969).
He starred with David Bowie (1947-2016) in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and appeared in such A-list dramas as Coma (1978), The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979) and Cross Creek (1983), the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination, while also taking checks for such fare as The Beastmaster (1982), Jinxed! (1982) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).
The 1991 comedy Defending Your Life renewed Torn's career and brought him to the attention of the producers of The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998), who cast him as a bombastic TV producer, a role for which he was Emmy-nominated six times and a winner once.
He worked steadily throughout the '90s and '00s, including in the blockbuster Men in Black franchise (1997-2012), in the dramas Forty Shades of Blue (2005) and Marie Antoinette (2006), in the broad comedies Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) and The Legend of Awesomest Maximus (2011) and in arcs on both Will & Grace (2002) and 30 Rock (2007-2009), only slowing down when he retired, ostensibly after 2012, though he provided a voice for the series TripTank in 2016, his final work.
His private life included alcohol abuse, which led to his bizarre 2010 arrest for breaking into a bank branch near his home.
Torn married three actresses — Ann Wedgeworth (1934-2017), whom he divorced; Geraldine Page (1924-1987), to whom he was married nearly 25 years, until her untimely death; and Wright, to whom he had been married 30 years at the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife and his six children, including actress Angelica Page (b. 1964); by his four grandchildren; by his sister; and by cousins including actress Sissy Spacek (b. 1949).