According to his bio on IMDb, Rip Torn (b. 1931) received his nickname from his father, who was also called Rip. Torn is their real last name. It sure sounds like a 1960s screen name to me! And another tidbit, Sissy Spacek (b. 1949) is his cousin.
With 182 titles listed on IMDb, I can only cover some highlights today. He started on the big screen in 1959 as the dentist in Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll starring Carol Baker (b. 1931), but he found real work on television in his early career. Let's look at some of his movies.
In 1959 he is in Pork Chop Hill with Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003) and in 1961 he plays Judas in King of Kings. The next year he was in Sweet Bird of Youth with Paul Newman (1925 - 2008) and his future wife, Geraldine Page (1924 - 1987).
He works with Steve McQueen (1930 - 1980) in Cincinnati Kid (1965). He also stars in a few movies, Tropic of Cancer in 1970 was a steamy story about the writer Henry Miller (1891 - 1980), and he plays the title role.
He works with Page again in Nasty Habits (1977) where he plays a priest and she a nun. In 1978 he is in Coma with Michael Douglas (b. 1944). Notice that he continues to work small roles with very talented actors and actresses. I am sure there is a long learning process in acting, and his personality allows him to take on any part he is offered. He even takes a part in a sword and sorcery fantasy called The Beastmaster in 1982.
There was a lot of work in the 1980s, but not much to talk about. Summer Rental with John Candy (9150 -- 1994) in 1985? In 1993 he scores a part in RoboCop 3. Still not the big hit. In 1996, Down Periscope with Kelsey Grammer (b. 1955) is good, and I think quite funny, but again not a major motion picture.
Then, in 1997, he is cast as Zed in Men in Black. A very big hit movie with Will Smith (b. 1958) and Tommy Lee Jones (b. 1946). Plus, sequels to come! Men in Black II in 2002, and he is currently filming Men in Black III for release in 2012.
Rip Torn has made quite a few more movies than I can mention here. His TV list is probably bigger than his movies, so maybe that will be a part of a future post.