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Rip Torn, cult actor and Artie in the Larry Sanders Show, dies aged 88

Star of a string of 60s classics fell foul of Hollywood because of his temper but found a fresh lease of life in comedy, from TV’s Larry Sanders Show to the Men in Black films
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Rip Torn, America’s celebrated wildman actor, has died aged 88. Torn, who had been a constant presence on stage and screen since the mid-1950s, was arguably better known for his eccentric, and occasionally violent, antics when the cameras weren’t rolling – and on one notorious occasion, when they were.


His publicist Rick Miramontez confirmed Torn died Tuesday afternoon at his home with his wife, actor Amy Wright, and daughters Katie Torn and Angelica Page by his side. No cause of death was given.


During the filming of Norman Mailer’s “underground” film Maidstone, a largely improvised production made at the height of the late 60s counterculture, Torn played Mailer’s brother, and attacked Mailer for real, hitting him over the head with a hammer and then attempting to strangle him. Mailer responded by biting Torn’s ear.


Actor Rip Torn poses backstage during the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards at Austin Studios on March 10, 2011 in Austin, Texas.

His secret weapon was to "Play drama as comedy and comedy as drama," Miramontez recalled the star once saying.

Torn appeared on Broadway 10 times, making his debut in Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth" in 1959. He earned a Tony Award nomination in 1960 for his performance. He also received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his role as Marsh Turner in the 1983 film "Cross Creek."

Perhaps his most memorable role was as producer Artie on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," which earned him six consecutive Emmy nominations and a win for best supporting actor in a comedy series.

    Following his success on the show, Torn was cast in several movies including 1997's "Men in Black," starring opposite Will Smith who posted a tribute to the fallen star Tuesday.
    Torn is survived by six children, four grandchildren, his wife, Amy Wright, and sister Patricia Alexander.

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