He smolders on screen with an intensity that reaches through the camera. No matter the size of the roles he plays, even when the parts offer just a few lines of dialogue, he invests the characterization with a seriousness of acting “method” from his years as a member of the Actors Studio. For more than 60 years on stage and screen, he plays just about every type of role, stretching his talent to portray men from many walks of life, even though he hails from the small town of Temple, Texas. And he waits until late in his career to achieve the recognition he has long deserved, when he finally becomes a household name, thanks to “The Larry Sanders Show.”
When Rip Torn died last week, at age 88, he left a tradition of the supporting player that hardly seems possible in today’s Hollywood. Never a top-lined actor, rarely seen in more than a handful of scenes in any of his more than 100 films and television shows, this theater-trained craftsman maintained that the integrity of the work matters more than the number of minutes on a screen, big or small. And, in a career filled with memorable appearances, he created characters we will never forget.