Rip Torn. It’s one of those movie star names that’s so easy to remember and fun to say you have to conclude it’s not his real name. Only in the case of the great Rip Torn, it is.
Torn was actually born Elmore Rudolph Torn, and later had his middle name changed to Rual to mirror that of his father. Apparently, it has been a long tradition in the Torn family to call their sons Rip, and the most famous son of the family was no exception.
Rip Torn has built an impressive filmography as an actor lasting nearly sixty years, starting with 1956’s Baby Doll. In 1983 he received an Oscar nomination for the film Cross Creek. He was nominated for six Emmy Awards for his part in 90’s classic comedy The Larry Sanders Show.
The thing I like most about Rip Torn though, is his name. Once you hear it, you don’t forget it. It follows a certain inevitability of logic that is rarely found in nameology. Rip. Torn. There it is.
In trivia news, Torn’s cousin is funny named actress Sissy Spacek. He was also originally offered Jack Nicholson’s part in Easy Rider, but didn’t get along with famously not-easy-to-get-along-with director Dennis Hopper and dropped out.
In 1963 Torn married actress Geraldine Page, forming legendary celebrity couple “The Torn Page”. Apparently Mr. Torn was not obvilious to the nickname and drew great delight from “Torn Page” appearing on the doorbell of their New York apartment. As would I.
That wasn’t to be the last time he teamed up with a funny named person either. In 2010 when in some legal hot water, Torn hired attorney A. Thomas Waterfall to represent him. We at the Funny Names Blog HQ fully understand why he would make that hire.
Among Torn’s most famous movie roles are parts in Sweet Bird of Youth, The Cincinnati Kid, Coma, A Face in the Crowd, Defending Your Life, The Insider, and the crusty Zed in Men in Black. A special recommendation must be made for all readers to watch The Man Who Fell to Earth, a 1976 film in which David Bowie plays an alien who lands in the middle of New Mexico and gets into a variety of unexplainable and mysterious shenanigans. Torn plays a college professor who becomes Bowie’s confidante of sorts. Watch the rather unsettling trailer here if you remain unconvinced.
No write-up of Rip Torn on the Funny Names Blog would be complete if I didn’t mention that he once directed a play titled The Honest-to-God Schnozzia. If that title didn’t put butts in seats, I don’t know what will.