He was born in Temple Texas the 6 of February in 1931. He was nicknamed "Rip" by his family after his father, who was also called like that. He went to the University of Texas, where he got a degree in animal husbandry.
When he was still young and naive, he went to Hollywood wanting to be a big movie star, but it didn't come soon, so he had to work in odd places while being cast in some shows.
His professional acting started on the small screen, appearing in "Omnibus" and "Playhouse 90". After becoming famous, he is constantly in demand as both leading and supporting actor. His best roles have been dramatic ones, but he still likes comedy.
He married Ann Wedgeworth in 1956, but soon divorced to marry Geraldine Page, who tragically died in 1987.