Rip Taylor didn't plan to be the confetti-throwing comedian, but he was bombing so badly on the "Merv Griffin Show" that he ripped up his notes and tossed them at the audience. Right there, a gimmick was born.
Before that appearance, Taylor had already started earning his reputation as the king of camp with rapid-fire one-liners and wacky costumes. (An enormously oversized hankie caught his tears as he "sobbed" on stage.) It's no surprise, then, that nicknames like Prince of Pandemonium and Master of Mayhem soon followed. Ed Sullivan inadvertently gave him another moniker when, in the late '60s, he blanked on Taylor's name and introduced him as "the crying comedian."
The former host of "The $1.98 Beauty Show" and guest star on "The Monkees," Taylor used to celebrate his 39th birthday every year with a scene that The Times said once featured a "lady of the night" vampire with a coffin, a dancing birthday cake and an 8-foot chicken.
Taylor has said he launched his career at strip joints, graduated to the Catskills, then to the "Ed Sullivan Show" and Vegas and eventually "legitimate theater." Behind the walrus moustache and Liberace mannerisms, he's nurtured a dramatic side.
"I take my work very seriously," he told the L.A. Times in 1999.
In addition to working on "The Gong Show," "Kids in the Hall" and two "Jackass" movies, Taylor has starred in such stage productions as "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Peter Pan," " Oliver!" and "Sugar Babies." He wrote and performed a one-man play about his life called "It Ain't All Confetti."