Rip Torn: Dodgeball and Men In Black Star Dies Aged 88

  • Celebrity
Rip Torn: Dodgeball and Men In Black Star Dies Aged 88

Rip Torn, who starred in the likes of Dodgeball and Men In Black, has died aged 88.

The award-winning television, film and theatre actor died at his home on Tuesday afternoon, with his wife and two daughters by his side.

He played Chief Zed, the head of the Men In Black, in the sci-fi film starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

Torn also gained fans in his role as quirky coach Patches O'Houlihan in Dodgeball alongside Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, not least for the catchphrase: "Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge."

His film debut came in 1957 as a former prisoner of war who breaks down at a court-martial in Time Limit.

Torn's career on stage and screen spanned seven decades - and the free-spirited Texan won an Emmy late in his career for his role in The Larry Sanders Show.

In 1983, he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor following his role as Marsh Turner in Cross Creek.

He also voiced the character of Greek god Zeus in Disney's 1997 animation Hercules.

No cause of death has been given by Torn's publicist.

Born Elmore Rual Torn, the actor adopted the name Rip as a child - but faced endless ridicule during his early days as a stage actor.

Although he was urged to change his name by fellow drama students, he stubbornly refused and earned his stripes by delivering a series of powerful performances.

Torn began his career as a military policeman during the Korean War before making the decision to hitchhike to Hollywood.

He only managed to land small roles in films and TV dramas while supporting himself as a fry cook and dishwasher, until appearing in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll in 1956.

His other film credits include Critic's Choice, The Cincinnati Kid and Defending Your Life.

Torn also appeared in television dramas playing the likes of Richard Nixon, Lyndon B Johnson and Walt Whitman.

Tributes from the world of entertainment poured in following Torn's death.

Will Smith, who appeared alongside Torn in two Men In Black films, shared a picture of the pair together on screen, along with the caption: "R.I.P. Rip."

Actor Albert Brooks wrote on Twitter: "R.I.P Rip Torn. He was so great in Defending Your Life. I'll miss you Rip, you were a true original."

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted: "Rip Torn always made me laugh. Artie and Bob Diamond were two utterly unforgettable characters."

Torn had a rebellious streak and once told The New York Times: "What do they say about all the guys that are tremendous actors?

"Don't they say they have a volatile temper and emotions? Yeah, sure they do! They're not saying they like a nice, mild guy. Look at Sean Penn."

His career hit a dry spell in the 1970s, which he blamed on a consensus in Hollywood that he was difficult to work with.

Torn's reputation was damaged when he was replaced in his starring role in hit film Easy Rider by Jack Nicholson following tensions on set.

"I wouldn't say that I was blacklisted," he told The Associated Press in 1984, "but the word got around that I was difficult and unreliable.

"Unreliable! In all my years in the theatre I have never missed a performance."

In his later years, he had a recurring role in sitcom 30 Rock and had a voice role in the 2007 animated film Bee Movie.

Source: Sky News