Actor and comedian Rip Taylor, who was known for his exuberant and flamboyant personality, died at the age of 84 on Sunday, October 6.
He passed in Beverly Hills, according to his publicist Harlan Boll.
The self-described “King of Confetti”, Rip was famous for dousing his audience with buckets of colored paper. It was something that they expected to be wearing by show’s end. His signature gag, however, happened by accident.
“I did props and I was ‘The Prop Comedian.’ I was dying like hell on Merv Griffin‘s show. The jokes were dumb, and I tore the 5 by 8 cards, threw them up in the air and it became confetti,” he recalled during a 2011 interview. “I knocked over his desk, walked up the aisle, went to Sardi’s and said, ‘Well, that’s the end of my television career.’ I went home that night. Their switchboard had lit up. They said, ‘Get the guy that went crazy!’ And that is how the confetti started.”
Taylor made numerous appearances on the small and big screen throughout his illustrious career. He played himself in the hit movie Wayne’s World 2 and also lent his voice to Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp and an animated version of The Addams Family.
His career on television included The $1.98 Beauty Show that aired on syndication between 1978-1980. The series, which only enhanced Taylor’s unique persona, featured six contestants of all shapes and sizes competing in talent and swimsuit competitions. The winner was chosen from a panel of celebrity judges who received a tacky plastic crown, rotten vegetables as a bouquet, and the prize of $1.98.
Taylor, who kept his personal life private for many years, sent author Brent Hartinger a terse reply after he referred to him as “openly gay” in 2008.
“You don’t know me to summarize that I am openly gay,” Taylor wrote. “I don’t know that you’re not an openly heroin user. You see how that works? Think before you write.”
Taylor is survived by his longtime partner, Robert Fortney. In lieu of flowers, they ask that donations be made to the Thalians, a charitable organization that the late actor supported that is dedicated to mental health issues.