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Sporting one of the great monikers in Hollywood history, this dynamic, chameleonlike character actor has enjoyed a lengthy career in motion pictures. As an ambitious young man, anticipating eventual success as an actor in Hollywood, Torn took employment in a variety of odd jobs during the mid 1950s before landing work on TV and in films (he made his film debut in 1956's Baby Doll. Intent on honing his skills, Torn moved to New York City shortly thereafter, where he studied at the Actors' Studio and appeared in many stage productions there. (Although he had the starring male role in "Sweet Bird of Youth" on Broadway, he lost out to Paul Newman for the 1962 movie, and played Tom Finley, Jr., instead; then, in the 1989 made-for-TV remake, he took the part of Boss Finley, Tom's father.) In movies, he has been often seen as twangy Southerners and dyspeptic authority figures (he also played Judas in 1961's King of Kings) and on TV he effectively played former President Richard Nixon in "Blind Ambition" (1977). Torn has frequently taken challenging leads in non-mainstream fare, such as Tropic of Cancer (1970, as Henry Miller), Payday (1973, his meatiest leading role on film, as a country singer), Heartland (1979, as a dour Scottish rancher in early 20th-century Wyoming), Jinxed! (1982, which some critics said he stole-in spite of playing a character who's dead through most of the proceed ings), and Cross Creek (1983), which earned him an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a backwoodsman. He also earned a niche in pop culture history as the man who quit the film Easy Rider paving the way for Jack Nicholson's star-making role as a dropout lawyer. Torn has leapfrogged between B movies and mainstream features (1991's Defending Your Life), and independent productions (1992's Beautiful Dreamersas Walt Whitman). He made an inauspicious directing debut with the Whoopi Goldberg thriller The Telephone (1988). Torn achieved comic perfection with his wickedly funny portrayal of a TV producer on "The Larry Sanders Show" (1992- ).
OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1957: A Face in the Crowd1959: Pork Chop Hill1965: The Cincinnati Kid1967: You're a Big Boy Now 1976: The Man Who Fell to Earth1977: Birch Interval, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover1978: Coma1979: The Seduction of Joe Tynan1980: One-Trick Pony, First Family1982: Airplane II: The Sequel, The Beastmaster1984: City Heat, Songwriter1985: Summer Rental1987: Nadine, Extreme Prejudice1992: Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Story(telefilm), T-Bone and Weasel(telefilm); 1993: RoboCop 3.
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