Best Of The Web
““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.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Blackface. I’ve been writing about, and researching – and opposing – racism for more than thirty years. And make no mistake: blackface isn’t funny. It’s racist. Ask Megyn Kelly. A year ago, the former Fox News star was filming a segment about..."
"Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “selfie line” may be a “political phenomenon,” according to CNN, but it’s also a misnomer, twice over: The photos that supporters end up with aren’t technically selfies—campaign aides snap them—and no one waits in a line..."
"In the archives of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, there is an old postcard from the city aquarium of a large sea turtle with four boys straddling its back. The turtle lies flattened upon a pathway in front of a fence. At the feet..."
"As we celebrated my granddaughter’s third birthday this summer, I made the following rough calculation: I’d trekked from my home in New Jersey to her Brooklyn apartment roughly 150 times to provide once-a-week day care, plus other times as needed."
"That seems to be the emerging bipartisan consensus. “On the evidence we have, the meritocratic ideal ends up being just as undemocratic as the old emphasis on inheritance and tradition,” writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “Our..."
"It was the 2019 Pet Sematary that finally broke me. Was this really necessary? I seethed in a theater earlier this year, at a loss for why anyone would green light a self-serious update to a 30-year-old so-bad-it's-good movie. "Update," even, was.."
"Tuesday was election day in Israel. But no winner has yet been declared. As of this writing, it appears that the parties committed to supporting Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister will not win a majority in Knesset. At the same time, the..."
"The last time Netflix asked me “Are you still watching?” I had to think really hard about it. Was I still watching? Or at least enough to make my $16-a-month payment worth it? The subscription economy can be a wonderful thing. We don’t have to..."