February 24, 2020

R.I.P. Rip Torn

““I get angry easily” sounds like hyperbole, but for Rip Torn, it may have been the understatement of the century.

The actor, who died Tuesday at his home in Connecticut at 88, was well known for his outsize outlaw persona. Most famously, he became enraged and struck Norman Mailer with a hammer while filming the latter’s 1968 film “Maidstone.” Naturally, that led to a fight that included Mailer biting Torn’s ear. That fight made its way into the film. Then in 2010, he broke into a Connecticut bank with a loaded gun. His argument: He wasn’t trying to rob the bank. He was just drunk and thought it was his house.

Oddly, this persona — along with his dramatic acting, which earned him an Oscar nomination for his role in 1984′s “Cross Creek” and several Tony nominations — was at the heart of his comedy, which remains the most endearing thing about him. By using that larger-than-life reputation to generate laughter rather than property damage, Torn gave us some of the most memorable characters in recent decades.

In honor of the late actor, here are the roles that defined his comedic presence.

Artie on “The Larry Sanders Show”
By the time Torn landed a role on an HBO comedy in 1992, he had portrayed three U.S. presidents: Ulysses S. Grant, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. He’d also appeared in comedies, such as “Airplane II: The Sequel,” but most fans knew the towering man as a dramatic actor who could bring a scowl with a side of gruff masculinity to any role.

He imbued Artie with those very same qualities — only this time, his over-the-top toxic and threatening nature was played for laughs. The sitcom was a behind-the-scenes satire of a late-night show, this one hosted by Garry Shandling’s Larry Sanders. Artie, his producer, cares only about the show going well, so he keeps things running smoothly, often by threatening the show’s staff and guests.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."

"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."

"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."

"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."

"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."

"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."

"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."