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'Crying Comedian' Dies At 84

Rip Taylor was known for his zany mannerisms and throwing confetti
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2019 5:33 AM CDT
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In this Oct. 21, 2002, file photo, comedian Rip Taylor talks with reporters before a film premiere in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Rene Macura, File)

(Newser) – When he first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early '60s, Rip Taylor made a name for himself as the "Crying Comedian," pretending to sob as he pleaded with the audience to laugh at his jokes. The world never really had a problem laughing at the comedian who, per NPR, became known for his "outrageous antics" and "flamboyant style," with a penchant for tossing scraps of papers around in his wake—earning him a second nickname, the "King of Confetti." That laughter has now been silenced: The man born Charles Taylor died Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif., at age 84. The comic, who became a staple on game shows like Hollywood Squares, late-night programs, and TV sitcoms, eventually became the host of his own game show, The $1.98 Beauty Show, meant to be a parody of beauty pageants.

Taylor, who started out in comedy after he served in the Army during the Korean War, also had multiple film and even stage credits to his name: In 1979, he took over the lead in Sugar Babies after Mickey Rooney left the Broadway production. As for the confetti-throwing, the Hollywood Reporter notes its origins, citing Taylor's own explainer in a 2011 interview: He was bombing on Merv Griffin's TV show and got frustrated, tearing up his 5x8 interview cards and throwing the pieces up in the air before walking off the stage. "Their switchboard ... lit up. They said, 'Get the guy that went crazy!'" he recalled. Taylor, who was married for a short time to Vegas showgirl Rusty Rowe, is survived by his longtime partner, Robert Fortney, per his publicist. (Read more obituary stories.)

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