When the attack happened, Mailer later said, he couldn't tell whether Torn was serious or only acting.
A heavy drinker, Torn had a few arrests for drunken driving in his later years.
But he wasn't driving when he had his most notorious encounter with the law. In January 2010, Connecticut State Police found a highly intoxicated Torn inside a closed bank in Salisbury, where he had a home.
Torn, who had a loaded gun in his pocket, had broken a rear window to enter the bank, which resembles a house. (He reportedly told police he thought he was home.) After spending the weekend in jail, he was released on $100,000 bail and entered an alcohol rehabilitation program.
"My father is a brilliant man, but so much has been wasted," Torn's actress daughter Angelica Page told The New York Post. "It's heartbreaking. But maybe now he's finally going to have to face the truth about himself and his drinking."
In December 2010, Torn pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and the illegal carrying of a firearm. He was given a 21/2-year suspended sentence and three years probation.
He was born Elmore Rual Torn Jr. on Feb. 6, 1931 in Temple, Texas. (Rip was a family nickname shared by his father and an uncle.)
Torn, who later helped cousin Sissy Spacek launch her acting career in New York, attended Texas A&M before transferring to the University of Texas, where he studied acting under renowned British theater director and teacher B. Iden Payne.
After a stint in the Army as a first lieutenant in the military police, Torn and his first wife, actress Ann Wedgeworth, moved to New York.
"My mother said, 'Promise me you won't wind up in the gutter,'" Torn often recalled. "'But Mom,' I told her, 'that's where you start.'"
Torn and Wedgeworth, with whom he had a daughter, Danae, were divorced. He and the Oscar-winning Page, who died in 1987, had three children, Angelica and twins Anthony and Jonathan. He and his third wife, actress Amy Wright, had two children, Katie and Claire.
(McLellan is a former writer for the Los Angeles Times)
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