Rip Torn who portrayed the amiable Zed in the Men In Black films, passed away at the age of 88. Born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr. on February 6, 1931 in Temple, Texas, Mr. Torn adopted the family name, ‘Rip’ as his first. Studying animal husbandry at Texas A&M, but defected to the drama department, Mr. Torn decided to hitchhike to Hollywood to become a movie star in order to make enough money to buy a ranch. When he arrived he had to work a series of odd jobs until he got a break as the dentist in an uncredited role in Elia Kazan’s, Baby Doll.
After service in the Army as a military police officer he became serious about learning his craft moving to New York City where he appeared in plays as well as in the Golden Age of television between 1957-1960 on Omnibus and Playhouse 90 where he received a Tony nomination in Sweet Bird of Youth.
Some of the feature films he appeared in were Pork Chop Hill, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Cincinnati Kid, and Dodgeball, but his greatest performance was in an obscure film entitled, Payday which should have made him a star. If you have never seen Payday, seek it out. Mr. Torn’s performance is stellar.
Television appearances include 30 Rock and the Man From U.N.C.L.E., but his comedic flair exploded on the Larry Sanders Show as the show’s producer, Artie, where his last name was never revealed. He was nominated six times for the role and finally won an Emmy for it.
One of his best quotes was when he was at the Academy Awards where he received his first Oscar nomination: “People are finally realizing that I’m one of the few actors that never missed a performance. I’ve worked with broken arms, legs, ankles and even passed a kidney stone on the opening night of a show.”
He was quite a character. We will miss him.
STARBURST sends our good thoughts out to his family and friends.