Rip Torn, Distinguished Actor & Texas Native, Passes Away at Age 88

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Award-winning actor Rip Torn has passed on at the age of 88. His publicist, Rick Miramontez, announced Torn’s passing, which happened on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, in his home, as he was surrounded by family.

His acting career spanned 70 years. His range was astounding. From drama to comedy, dark roles to lighter-hearted and satirical, Torn was able to do them all. He was originally born Elmore Rual Torn in Temple, Texas, and took on the name “Rip” as a child, in the tradition of his dad and his uncle. He had originally attended Texas A&M to study agriculture and went on to acting at the University of Texas. After spending time in the service as a military policeman, he went to Hollywood, working part-time as we tried to make a name in the business. He followed that up with a move to New York to pursue additional acting training. Despite the fact that he suffered mockery as a result of his name in his early career, he overcame through sheer stubbornness.

Rip Torn, Distinguished Actor & Texas Native, Passes Away at Age 88

Photo: Flickr/photo by Alan Light

He was considered a master of his craft as part of the post-war generation, bringing a level of pragmatism to his on-stage or on-screen appearances which was unparalleled. He also picked up the political activism gauntlet, joining Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, and others in a 1963 meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, then-Attorney General of the U.S. for a forthright and sometimes emotional discussion about race relations in the U.S.

His film credits commenced in 1956 with “Baby Doll,” and continuous casting in such movies as “Critics Choice,” “Defending Your Life,” and “Cross Creek,” a film for which he earned an Oscar nomination. In more recent years, his fans would recognize his roles in “City Heat” as well as “Men in Black.” In television, he continued to make appearances over his seven decades of acting. More recently, he had landed a recurring role as Don Geiss on “30 Rock,” and did a voice role in the “Bee Movie” in 2007. Torn had a loving family consisting of a daughter from his first marriage to Ann Wedgeworth, as well as three children with his second wife, Geraldine Page. Additionally, he had two children with actress Amy Wright.