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Men in Black Actor Rip Torn, Emmy Winner and Oscar Nominee, Dies Aged 88

Rip Torn played Zed, the alien-busting boss in two Men in Black movies. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part as Marsh Turner in Cross Creek.

Reuters

Updated:July 10, 2019, 5:01 PM IST
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Men in Black Actor Rip Torn, Emmy Winner and Oscar Nominee, Dies Aged 88
Rip Torn played Zed, the alien-busting boss in two Men in Black movies. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part as Marsh Turner in Cross Creek.

Emmy winning actor Rip Torn, whose tempestuous nature made him a compelling character actor on the screen and stage but sometimes caused him trouble on the set and in private life, died on Tuesday at the age of 88, media reports said. Torn, whose late-career resurgence included a key role on US television's The Larry Sanders Show and in the movies Men in Black and Dodgeball, died peacefully at his home, his family told the Hollywood Reporter and other media.

The cause was not disclosed, but he was surrounded by his wife, actress Amy Wright, known for Stardust Memories and The Accidental Tourist, and his daughters, media reports said. Neither his family nor agent were immediately available for comment late Tuesday.

Torn showed great range in his career but with a crooked grin, gruff voice and devilish glint in his eyes, he was especially well suited to playing bad boys and unpredictable characters.

He often made headlines because of his volatility. He blamed his dismissal from a production of Macbeth on "friends" of the administration of President Richard Nixon, who Torn would later portray in the television mini-series Blind Ambition.

Later in life came alcohol-related incidents, including an arrest in 2010 for breaking into a closed bank that he had mistaken for his home in Salisbury, Connecticut. "I have certain flaws in my makeup. Something called rise-ability. I get angry easily. I get saddened by things easily," Torn told writer Studs Terkel for Working, a 1974 book about people and their jobs.

Torn said he went into acting as a way to use those emotions to his benefit. "Rip has an unabashed masculine drive. You can't act that," playwright Horton Foote, who cast Torn in his play The Young Man From Atlanta and also worked frequently with Torn's second wife, Geraldine Page, told the New York Times.

Torn played Zed, the alien-busting boss in two Men in Black movies. Will Smith posted a photo of his co-star as a tribute, saying, "RIP Rip."

View this post on Instagram

R.I.P. Rip

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith) on

Torn also played Patches O'Houlihan, the snarling wheelchair-bound burn-out case whose idea of training his charges in the 2004 comedy Dodgeball was to throw tools at them. A run on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock brought Torn another Emmy nomination in 2008.

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