Flamboyant actor and comedian Rip Taylor, best known for his gags involving showering himself and others with confetti, passed away on October 6, 2019. His publicist, B. Harlan Boll, confirmed that Taylor died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, having been hospitalized after suffering a seizure the week prior. He was 88 years old.
Born Charles Elmer “Rip” Taylor Jr. in 1931, Taylor worked as a congressional page before serving in the Korean War while in the US Army Signal Corps. Following his service, Taylor began performing in stand-up in clubs and restaurants. His first live show was in 1966 when he toured with Judy Garland and Eleanor Powell in Las Vegas. He later replaced Mickey Rooney in the musical comedy Sugar Babies on Broadway and often co-starred with Debbie Reynolds in her live shows.
Taylor’s over the top delivery and exuberant personality made him a mainstay of television and nightclubs for more than six decades. His early acts consisted of pantomiming records, before developing his signature piece – pretending to cry as he begged the audience to laugh. This bit landed him a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, where he made nearly 20 appearances. He also made several guest appearances as “the crying comedian” on The Jackie Gleason Show.
He later made cameos in early episodes of The Monkees and provided the voice of Uncle Fester for the second Addams Family cartoon and the Grump for Here Comes the Grump. Across the early 1970s, Taylor frequented such variety shows as Hollywood Squares, To Tell the Truth, The Gong Show, The Match Game, and The Brady Bunch Hour. In 1978, he hosted the short-lived beauty pageant parody The $1.98 Beauty Show. He went on to voice C.J. in Scooby Goes Hollywood, the genie in DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Chief Undersecretary Wartle in Zork: Grand Inquisitor, and the Royal Record Keeper in The Emperor’s New School.
Taylor also made appearances as himself in the movie Wayne’s World 2, as well as Brotherly Love, Will & Grace, and George Lopez. He was also a frequent accomplice of the Jackass crew, appearing in the films Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two, and Jackass 3D. He made additional appearances in the comedies The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington, Chatterbox, and Things Are Tough All Over. More recently, Taylor appeared in the one-man show It Ain’t All Confetti, where he shared personal stories about his life and career.