Rip Taylor, the confetti throwing comedian best known for hosting The $1.98 Beauty Show, died on Sunday at his Beverly Hills home, his publicist told The Wrap. He also made memorable appearances on Match Game, Hollywood Squares, The Gong Show, Super Password and The Tonight Show. He was 84.
Taylor broke through with his appearance on The Gong Show, which inspired Chuck Barris to offer him the hosting gig for his next show, The $1.98 Beauty Show. The show was similar to The Gong Show, but parodied beauty contests instead of talent shows.
At the end of each episode, Taylor famously cage the winner a bouquet of rotten vegetables, a Statue of Liberty crown and exactly $1.98 in change. "You win the prize. You take the cake. You get the crown and a dollar ninety eight," he told the winner.
Taylor also appeared in Indecent Proposal, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Wayne's World 2, the 2005 movie adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard, and Alex & Emma. He made his final appearance in the 2012 comedy Silent But Deadly.
The "Prince of Pandemonium" also voiced several characters in animated shows and movies. His voice can be heard in The Emperor's New School, DuckTales the Movie: The Treasure of the Lost Lamp, What's New, Scooby-Doo? and the 1992-1993 animated Addams Family series.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Taylor made more than 2,000 appearances on television during his career, including dozens of Tonight Show and Mike Douglas Show skits.
Taylor was born Charles Elmer Taylor Jr. in Washington, D.C. As a teenager, he served as a congressional page, which he later thought was preposterous considering what he grew up to become.
"Can you imagine what I do now and what I did then?" Taylor told Skip E. Lowe in 1990. "I knew I was a ham in those hallways because you had to wear a black suit and black knickers. And you'd all have to go under the catacombs to get to the Senate office building, the House office building and Supreme Court to get a document for the congressman and the senator. But I went straight through the rotunda with all the tourists. I would say, 'Paging Senator Bilbo,' who was hot at the time. He was the one in the papers. I was so hammy even then. I knew I was going to be in show business someday."
Taylor briefly served in the U.S. Army. When he came home, he decided to focus on a career in the entertainment industry. He eventually got a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, which introduced him to a wider audience. He also became a favorite in Las Vegas.
During his career, Taylor racked up dozens of nicknames, including "The Crying Comedian" and "The King of Confetti." At one point, the "King of Confetti" nickname became so big everyone attending his shows expected it to end with him throwing confetti in the air.
In 2011, Taylor said the confetti throwing came to him by accident. He told the Classic Television Showbiz blog he was dying on stage during an appearance 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," Taylor explained. "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."0comments
Taylor was the subject of the documentary Rip Rip Hooray. He is is survived by his partner, Robert Fortney.
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