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story.lead_photo.caption In this Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009, file photo, U.S. actor Rip Torn poses during a photo call for the competition movie "Happy Tears" at the Berlinale in Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

LOS ANGELES -- Rip Torn, the free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theater, and movies, such as Men in Black, and win an Emmy in his 60s for The Larry Sanders Show, has died. He was 88.

Torn died Tuesday afternoon at his home with his wife, Amy Wright, and daughters Katie Torn and Angelica Page by his side, according to his publicist Rick Miramontez. No cause of death was given.

His work on stage and screen spanned seven decades, ranging from an early career of dark roles to iconic comedic performances later in life.

After acclaimed performances in Cross Creek, Sweet Bird of Youth and other dramas, Torn turned to comedy to capture his Emmy as the bombastic, ethically challenged television producer in The Larry Sanders Show. Created by and starring Garry Shandling, HBO's spoof of TV talk shows aired from 1992 to 1998 and is widely credited with inspiring such satirical programs as 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Torn also played Agent Zed in the first two Men in Black movies.

Born Elmore Rual Torn, the actor adopted the name Rip in his boyhood, following the tradition of his father and uncle. It was the subject of endless ridicule during his early days as a stage actor in New York.

He eventually overcame the jokes with a series of powerful performances that led to his being regarded as an actor of a postwar generation who brought tense realism to his craft. He was also a political activist who joined civil-rights leaders for a 1963 meeting with then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy about the country's treatment of its black citizens.

Born in Temple, Texas, Torn initially studied agriculture at Texas A&M and acting at the University of Texas. After service as a military policeman during the Korean War, he hitchhiked to Hollywood. Landing only tiny roles in movies and TV dramas, he decided to shift to New York and seek more training as an actor.

Obits on 07/11/2019

Print Headline: Oddly named stage, screen, TV actor

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