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Rip Taylor, Comedian Known For His Camp And Confetti, Dies At 88

Rip Taylor talks with reporters before a film premiere in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, in 2002. Taylor, the mustachioed comedian with a fondness for confetti-throwing who became a television game show mainstay in the 1970s, died Sunday.
Rene Macura

Rip Taylor, the comedian who became a fixture of 1970s game shows with his outrageous antics, flamboyant style and signature confetti-throwing, has died at age 88.

His publicist, Harlan Boll, confirmed Taylor died Sunday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Taylor's career spanned more than 40 years and encompassed Broadway, Las Vegas, film and television.

Born Charles Taylor in Washington, D.C., he got his start as a stand-up comic playing clubs in the Catskills after he'd served in the Army during the Korean War.

In a 1992 interview with United Press International, Taylor acknowledged that much of his early material consisted of jokes stolen from USO tours he'd seen.

His first national television appearance came in 1963 on The Ed Sullivan Show, where he became known as the "crying comedian" for a routine in which he cried onstage as he begged the audience to laugh at his jokes.

"I sat on a stool telling jokes, and nobody was laughing," he told UPI in 1992. "In desperation, I pretended to cry as I begged them to laugh. That killed 'em."

Taylor went on to make some 2,000 guest appearances on such shows as The Hollywood Squares, Match Game, The Gong Show and Super Password.

He was also a frequent guest on The Merv Griffin Show, The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman. He also made a cameo on The Monkees.

In the 1970s, Taylor hosted The $1.98 Beauty Show.Created by The Gong Show's Chuck Barris, it was a spoof of traditional beauty pageants, where contestants won such prizes as a bouquet of rotten vegetables, or the top prize of $1.98.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 7, 2019 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this story and headline gave an incorrect age for Rip Taylor based on information from his publicist. He was actually 88 when he died, not 84.
Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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