Rip Torn, the veteran actor of stage and screen and perhaps best known as Zed (“Men in Black”) or Artie (“The Larry Sanders Show”) has died. According to trade reports, Torn, who was 88, died “peacefully” at his home in Lakeville, Connecticut.
An actor’s actor if not necessarily considered a comic one in the early part of his career, Torn established one of the most memorable — and best loved — comic performances in TV history, as the dyspeptic, acerbic, no-nonsense producer of “The Larry Sanders Show,” known simply as Arthur, or “Artie.” He reprised a variation of that in “30 Rock” (Don Geiss, General Electric chief, remember?) and had a memorable turn in “Will & Grace” too. However, a TV career that launched in 1957 was preceded — and arguably overshadowed — by a celebrated stage run beginning in 1955, when he starred as Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (he was billed then as Elmore Rual Torn Jr.) and then in “Sweet Bird of Youth” in 1959, as Tom Jr.
Torn was married three times — to actresses Ann Wedgeworth, Geraldine Page and Amy Wright.
He was arrested in 2010 after breaking into a bank in Litchfield, Connecticut. (Torn said he thought it was his home).
Texas-born Torn was nominated for an Oscar (for 1984’s “Cross Creek”) and was a nine-time Emmy nominee, winning for “Sanders” finally in 1996.