Happy Birthday Rip Torn: Celebrating the Legendary Actor’s Best Moments

by Emily Morgan

Regarded as a comedic icon whose various roles in “The Larry Sanders Show” and Men In Black gave him a cult-like following, Rip Torn embodied the true spirit of an outsider in Hollywood. 

His odd on-and-off-screen quirks mays have made him difficult to work with; nevertheless, there was never a dull moment when Torn was on set. 

When he passed away at 88-years old, we lost a legend no one could ever replace nor forget. He starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest comedy films, including Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Freddy Got Fingered. As a way to celebrate Torn on what would have been his 90th birthday, Outsider is here to remind you just how legendary he was during his 60-year career. 

Rip Torn as Marsh Turner in Cross Creek 

In 1983, Torn starred in the drama and romance film Cross Creek as Marsh Turner. His portrayal in the film would earn him his first Academy Award nomination as “Best Supporting Actor” for his role as a poor backwoods poacher and neighbor of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Florida’s orange groves. 

Torn in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Finally, how could we forget Torn’s role in the hilarious comedy,  Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. In 2004, he was perfectly cast as an angry paralyzed Vietnam vet coaching a dodgeball team by throwing pipe wrenches at them, alongside Vince Vaugh and Ben Stiller.

“If you can dodge a wrench,” Mr. Torn says, “you can dodge a ball.” He hurls a wrench at one player’s head, knocking him to the floor, writhing in pain.” “Any other questions?” he asks.

Torn in ‘The Larry Sanders Show’

From 1992 to 1998, Torn played the role of Artie in “The Larry Sanders Show.” Torn received six consecutive Emmy Award nominations as “Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” and won the award once in 1996. Torn was the only actor in the series’ cast to win an Emmy Award for his work. Besides the Emmy win, he received two American Comedy Awards nominations for Funniest Male Performance in a Series, winning once, and two CableACE Awards for his work on the show. 

Rip Torn’s Broadway Career

Off-screen Torn appeared in 10 Broadway plays as an actor and once as a director. In 1959, he made his Broadway debut when he played Tom Junior in Sweet Bird of Youth, which earned him a Theatre World Award and a Tony Award nomination.

From 1962 to 1964, he had numerous Broadway appearances, beginning with Silence’s Daughter as Carlo. In 1968, he played Roberto in The Cuban Thing. He also portrayed Edgar in Dance of Death and directed his first Broadway play in 1973.

He performed the Son in the Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie and portrayed Don in Mixed Couples five years later. 

Later in 1993, Torn returned to the Broadway stage to portray Chris Christopherson in Anna Christie. In his last Broadway appearance in 1997, Torn played Will Kidder’s role in The Young Man from Atlanta.

The Confusing Fight Scene in Maidstone

Even though Maidstone received negative reviews, there’s no doubt people remember Rip Torn’s part. The 1970 independent film drama, produced and directed by Norman Mailer, served to blur the line between filmmaking and reality. 

Mailer played a version of himself in the film while Torn played the director’s brother. During filming, Torn and Mailer got into a heated exchange that ended in a fistfight. 

Torn hits Mailer with a hammer during the brawl, which Mailer responds to by biting Torn’s ear. It becomes confusing for viewers trying to distinguish whether it’s documentary role play or a real-life battle. Either way, Torn goes deep into his character’s psyche, as you can see in the clip below.