Rip Taylor, Flamboyant Television Comedian and Actor, Dies at 84


Rip Taylor, a flamboyant mainstay of the comedy circuit who was known for his gags involving confetti, his brand of self-deprecating humor in which he would remove his toupee and his extensive voice work, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 84.

His publicist, B. Harlan Böll, confirmed the death and said Mr. Taylor had a seizure and died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, although an exact cause of death had not yet been determined.

Mr. Taylor, who introduced himself to legions of television viewers on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and on game shows such as “Hollywood Squares,” “Match Game” and “Super Password,” made over 2,000 appearances on television during his more than 50 years in show business, according to his publicist.

“The greatest joy Rip had in life was from the result of making others laugh,” Mr. Böll said. “He didn’t have an easy childhood. Abused and bullied, he said he discovered early that they weren’t hitting you if they were laughing.”

Mr. Taylor was known for his wild style, mustache and affinity for nicknames, like the King of Confetti and the Prince of Pandemonium. His television credits included appearances on “The Monkees” and “The Gong Show” and a stint as the host of “The $1.98 Beauty Show” from 1978 to 1980.

He maintained relevance later in his career, playing himself in the 1993 movie “Wayne’s World 2” and in the “Jackass” franchise. “The Simpsons” also parodied him.

He appeared regularly on the annual Labor Day telethon hosted by Jerry Lewis benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In Las Vegas, he was named Entertainer of the Year three times, according to his biography.

Charles Elmer Taylor was born on Jan. 13, 1935, in Washington, D.C., and was raised by his mother, Mr. Böll said. Mr. Taylor worked as a congressional page as a teenager and served in the United States Army during the Korean War, entertaining fellow soldiers while in combat.

He is survived by his longtime partner, Robert Fortney. A previous marriage to a showgirl ended in divorce, Mr. Böll said.

Throughout Mr. Taylor’s career, his voice proved to be a bankable commodity. In the 1960s, he did voice work as the son, Elroy, on “The Jetsons.” He was nominated for an Emmy for playing the voice of Uncle Fester in the television adaptation of “The Addams Family.”

In 1992, Mr. Taylor was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His penchant for showering television studio audiences with confetti lives on in a number of internet memes.

Mr. Taylor was often confused with the character actor Rip Torn, who died in July.

“He found humor in it,” Mr. Böll said. “In fact, when Rip passed away, he got notes and condolences. He made a big joke out of it. He said he hoped he got half as much attention when he died.”

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