RIP Rip Taylor — Confetti-Throwing Comedian Dead At 88

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How Did Rip Taylor Die? New Details On Death Of Confetti-Throwing Comedian At 88

Rip Taylor, the iconic comedian known for his mustache has died. He was 88. He died on Sunday in Beverly Hills according to his publicist. He got his start on old school shows like the Ed Sullivan Show and the beauty pageant spoof $1.98 Beauty Show. In the 1970s, you couldn't turn on a game show with a celebrity panel without seeing Rip Taylor in the line-up. He was born Charles Elmer Taylor, Jr. on January 13, 1931 in Washington D.C. He was well-known for his zaniness and flamboyant persona. How did Rip Taylor die?

1. How he came to be known as Rip

Obviously, Rip is a nickname that stuck. Charles Elmer Taylor, Jr. worked as a congressional page before serving in the Army during the Korean War. It was while he was in the service that he started performing and honing his stand-up routine. He came by his nickname in the early days of his career. He was performing in the Catskills. In a 1992 interview Taylor said: "I sat on a stool telling jokes, and nobody was laughing. In desperation, I pretended to cry as I begged them to laugh. That killed 'em."

2. The "crying comedian"

The crying he did during that fateful set in the Catskills became one of his trademarks. In fact, it got the attention of Ed Sullivan. The thing is, Sullivan couldn't remember Taylor's name and as legend has it, said "get me the crying comedian." From there, Taylor's career took off and in 1966 he was on tour with Judy Garland in Las Vegas. Taylor went on to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show more than 20 times.

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3. Cheesy jokes

NPR notes that Taylor was a force of nature, and that's totally true. In talk show appearances, Taylor trotted in, throwing confetti joyously and making his presence known. When it came to the jokes, however, they were... not good. Cringe-worthy, in fact. Go ahead, pull up a YouTube video of an old Rip Taylor performance and see for yourself. He was a master of puns that involved props like a rubber chicken with a Slinky attached to it which he declared a "Spring Chicken," and silly acts like that. Still though, you couldn't help but like the guy with the bad, bushy blonde toupee and ridiculous mustache.

4. A long career

Rip Taylor was a performer for five decades. He made more than 2,000 guest appearances on shows including The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Hollywood Squares and The Gong Show. He did voice work for shows like The Jetsons and The Addams Family as Uncle Fester. He was also a collaborator of the Jackass crew and appeared as himself in those movies. He also appeared in a number of Broadway and stage shows including Sugar Babies, Anything Goes, Peter Pan and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

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5. His love life

Rip Taylor identified as bisexual. He was married for a number of years to a Las Vegas showgirl. He is survived by his longtime male partner Robert Fortney. He was the Grand Marshall of the 2005 Gay Pride Parade In Washington D.C., yet was upset when a website called him "openly gay" in 2008. In a 2009 interview for Ask the Flying Monkey, the writer received an email from Taylor stating: "You don't know me to summarize I am openly gay. I don't know you're not an open heroin user. You see how that works? Think before you write."

6. He polished his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Legend has it that Rip Taylor was so proud of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that he visited it frequently to clean and buff it. And can't you just imagine him doing that? 

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7. He was in the hospital before he died

Rip Taylor died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He had been hospitalized since suffering a seizure last week. He is survived by his partner Robert Fortney. The couple asks that donations be made to the Thalians, an organization Taylor supported that's dedicated to mental health issues. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.