Rip Torn’s North Salem mugshot prompts bizarre campaign tactic, apology

OK, it’s been a week since this bizarre story broke, but it warrants a review, Suburbarazzi-style:

rip-torn.jpgIn Cincinnati last week, City Councilman Chris Monzel apologized publicly to Rip Torn for manipulating the actor’s mug shot — taken in 2006 after Torn was arrested for drunk driving in North Salem — for a campaign ad.

Suburbarazzi posted an alternate mug shot and appeared to join The Journal News in scooping the story about Torn’s arrest on Dec. 4, 2006. On April 16, 2007, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, paid a $380 fine and surrendered his license for 90 days. And, at the time, that appeared to be the end of the story.

Facing actual drunk-driving charges is bad enough, but having your barely obscured face incorrectly associated with sexual predators is no better.

Monzel’s campaign was taken enough by the photo of the (allegedly) ripped Torn to use it in a TV ad decrying sexual predators, obscuring just the eyes of the picture with a black bar.

I’ll let the Associated Press take over from here:

Monzel said the ad was meant to depict a generic criminal and discuss his efforts to ‘get sexual predators off the streets.’ He said the ad wasn’t meant to have anything to do with the 77-year-old actor.

However, someone was able to identify Torn, and the actor was notified, Monzel said. Monzel quickly pulled the ad from local TV and cable stations.

Torn demanded an apology. On (June 10), Monzel placed an ad in The Cincinnati Enquirer describing Torn as an award-winning actor who had served honorably in the Army. The wording was negotiated over months, Monzel said.

‘That’s what this is about,’ he said. ‘And I apologize for it. I want to take full responsibility.’

The Enquirer said efforts to reach Torn were unsuccessful.

I’m not sure if Monzel, who was re-elected, was punished in any way for this massive error in judgment, but I wouldn’t blame Torn if he funded similar commercials for Monzel’s campaign opponent next time around.

(Photo courtesy of Somers state police.)

Chris Serico

A Westchester native and Boston College grad, Chris Serico will host your game show for scale. A features reporter for the The Journal News, he's also written for the newspaper's Listening Room, Suburbarazzi and Remote Access entertainment blogs. For those about to rock, he salutes you.