“Rip Torn, an actor who made his reputation in the works of Tennessee Williams and played roles as diverse as Walt Whitman, Richard Nixon and Judas Iscariot before earning his greatest fame as a gruff, bullying producer on one of the most acclaimed television comedies of the 1990s, died on Tuesday at his home in Lakeville, Conn.,” reports Anita Gates in The New York Times. Torn was 88.
The Times obituary continues, “On ‘The Larry Sanders Show,’ which starred Garry Shandling as the neurotic star of a late-night talk show and ran from 1992 to 1998 on HBO, Mr. Torn played Artie, the show-within-a-show’s tough-as-nails producer, and stole every scene he entered. His character was so fiercely loyal that when Larry’s wife locked Larry out of their bedroom, it was Artie who broke down the door. When a drunken writer half Artie’s age tried to rush the stage while the show was on the air, he tackled the young man to the floor without a second’s hesitation.
“Mr. Torn’s outsize performance brought him six Emmy Award nominations for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series. He won the award in 1996.”
Notes Variety in its obituary of Torn, “The actor was nominated for a supporting-actor Oscar in 1984 for his work as a father who confronts tragedy in Martin Ritt’s ‘Cross Creek,’ one of many rural dramas in which he appeared during his career.
“He drew a Tony nomination in 1960 for his first performance on Broadway, as the sadistic son of the town boss in Elia Kazan’s original production of Tennessee Williams’ ‘Sweet Bird of Youth.’ Torn later replaced Paul Newman in the starring role of Chance Wayne. He, Newman and Broadway co-star Geraldine Page, whom Torn married in 1963, re-created their roles in the 1962 film adaptation. (Torn also starred as Boss Finley in a 1989 NBC adaptation of the play directed by Nicolas Roeg.)”
Here’s a 10-minute reel of clips of Torn as Artie that we found on YouTube—it was originally posted in 2007.