Rip Torn, Star of The Larry Sanders Show and Dodgeball, Dead at 88

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Rip Torn, Star of <i>The Larry Sanders Show</i> and <i>Dodgeball</i>, Dead at 88

Rip Torn, the beloved actor best known for his role as Artie The Producer on The Larry Sanders Show, passed away on Tuesday, THR reports. His cause of death is currently unknown. He was 88 years old.

Torn was born in Feb. 6, 1931 in Temple, Texas. He studied drama at the University of Texas at Austin before briefly joining the army. After two years of service, he studied acting under the instruction of Lee Strasberg, where he met broadway director Elia Kazan.

Beginning his acting career on the stage, Torn quickly moved to the screen in 1957, starring in Time Limit as a prisoner of war. He quickly began to guest star on many of the biggest television shows of the ‘60s, including turns on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Untouchables, all while maintaining a theatrical career on the side.

Torn was nominated for many awards: a Tony for 1960’s Sweet Bird of Youth, an Oscar for 1984’s Cross Creek, and nine Emmy nods for his roles on The Larry Sanders Show and Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, where he played the exuberant CEO of General Electric, Don Geiss. He won the Emmy in 1996 and was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2011.

Torn also played the dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan in Ben Stiller’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story—“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”—and Zed, the leader of the Men in Black organization.

On set, the actor was known for his trouble-making behavior; Torn attacked actor-director Norman Mailer in an improvised fight scene in 1970’s Maidstone, and supposedly pulled a knife on Dennis Hopper in a diner while discussing a role in Easy Rider. Later, Torn would dispute this story; he sued Hopper for libel, saying that the director actually pulled the knife on him, and won $475,000 in damages.

In 2010, Torn broke into a Connecticut bank after closing hours while drunk. He pleaded guilty, saying that, in his inebriated state, he thought the bank was his home.

Torn helped launch the career of his cousin, Sissy Spacek. He is survived by his wife, Amy Wright, his two daughters and three grandchildren.

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