James Lipton

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James Lipton
James Lipton by David Shankbone.jpg
Lipton at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 27, 2007
Born (1926-09-19) September 19, 1926 (age 91)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Host, writer, teacher, actor, producer, lyricist
Years active 1951–present
Spouse(s) Nina Foch (1954–1959)
Kedakai Turner (1970–present)
Parent(s) Lawrence Lipton
Betty Weinberg

James Lipton (born September 19, 1926) is an American writer, lyricist, actor and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City. He is the executive producer, writer and host of the Bravo cable television series Inside the Actors Studio, which debuted in 1994.[1]

He is a Chevalier of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.[2]

Early life

Lipton was born on September 19, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan, the only child of Betty (née Weinberg), a teacher and librarian,[3] and Lawrence Lipton, a journalist. Noted as the author of the popular Beat Generation chronicle, The Holy Barbarians, Lawrence Lipton was a graphic designer, a columnist for the Jewish Daily Forward, and a publicity director for a movie theater.[4][5] James Lipton's father was a Polish Jewish immigrant (from Lodz), while his maternal grandparents were Russian Jews.[6][7][8] His parents divorced when Lipton was six[3] and his father abandoned the family.[9] Lipton's family struggled financially and he started to work at age 13.[9] He worked in high school as a newspaper copy boy for The Detroit Times, and an actor in the Catholic Theater of Detroit and in radio.[3][9] After graduating from Central High School in Detroit, he attended Wayne State University for one year in the mid-1940s and enlisted in the United States Air Force.[3]


Lipton portrayed Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger's nephew, on WXYZ Radio's The Lone Ranger. He initially studied to be a lawyer in New York, and turned to acting only to finance his education.[3][10][11] He wrote for several soap operas, Another World, The Edge of Night, The Guiding Light, The Best of Everything, Return to Peyton Place and Capitol, as well as acting for over ten years on The Guiding Light.[10] Lipton studied two and half years with Stella Adler, four years with Harold Clurman, and two years with Robert Lewis.[3] He also started studying voice and dance (including modern dance and classical ballet), and choreographed a ballet for the American Ballet Theater.[3]

In 1951, he appeared in the Broadway play The Autumn Garden by Lillian Hellman. He portrayed a shipping clerk turned gang member in Joseph Strick's 1953 film, The Big Break, a crime drama. He was the librettist and lyricist for the short-lived 1967 Broadway musical Sherry!, based on the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman play The Man Who Came to Dinner, with music by his childhood friend Laurence Rosenthal. The score and orchestrations were lost for over 30 years, and the original cast was never recorded. In 2003, a studio cast recording (with Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Tommy Tune, Mike Myers and others) renewed interest in the show.[citation needed]

His book, An Exaltation of Larks, was first published in 1968, and has been in-print and revised several times since then, including a 1993 Penguin books edition.[12] The book is a collection of "terms of venery", both real and created by Lipton himself. The dust jacket biography for the first edition of Exaltation said his activities included fencing, swimming, and equestrian pursuits and that he had written two Broadway productions.

In 1983, Lipton published his novel, Mirrors, about dancers' lives. He later wrote and produced it as a made-for-television movie.[10] In television, Lipton has produced some two dozen specials including: twelve Bob Hope Birthday Specials; The Road to China, an NBC entertainment special produced in China; and the first televised presidential inaugural gala (for Jimmy Carter).[10]

In 2004, 2005, and 2013 Lipton appeared in several episodes of Arrested Development as Warden Stefan Gentles. In 2008, he provided the voice for the Director in the Disney animation film Bolt. He played "himself" as Brain Wash interviewer of acting teacher for sweet monster Eva in Paris-Vietnam animated Igor. Lipton has also appeared twice in the same episode of Family Guy in cutaways where he simply says "Improv!" both times.[citation needed]

Inside the Actors Studio

In the early 1990s, Lipton was inspired by Bernard Pivot and sought to create a three-year educational program for actors that would be a distillation of what he had learned in the 12 years of his own intensive studies.[10] In 1994, he arranged for the Actors Studio – the home base of "method acting" in the USA for over 60 years – to join with New York City's New School University and form the Actors Studio Drama School, a formal degree-granting program at the graduate level.[10] After ending its contract with the New School, the Actors Studio established The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in 2006.[citation needed]

Lipton created a project within the Actors Studio Drama School: a non-credit class called Inside the Actors Studio (1994), where successful and accomplished actors, directors and writers would be interviewed and would answer questions from acting students.[10] These sessions are also taped and broadcast on television for the general public to see. The episodes are viewed in 89 million homes throughout 125 countries.[2] Lipton hosts the show and conducts the main interview.[10] During an interview with Daniel Simone, the author of The Lufthansa Heist, when asked if he had anticipated the sudden success, Lipton responded, "Not in my wildest imaginations. It was a joint, arduous effort involving many people. At a point and time not too distant in the past, I had three lives. I was the dean of the Actors Studio, the writer of the series, its host and executive producer. I maintained a preposterous sixteen-hour schedule."[13]

Personal life

Between 1954 and 1959, Lipton was married to actress Nina Foch. He has been married to Kedakai Turner, a model and real estate broker, since 1970. Turner is well known as the model playing Ms. Scarlett on the cover of the popular boardgame Clue.[5] In the 200th episode of Inside the Actors Studio, Lipton revealed that he is an atheist. He also revealed that during the 1950s, he had been a procurer of prostitutes in Paris.[9] Lipton has stated in interviews that he is a pilot, certified in Airplane Single Engine Land planes.[14][15] He has been flying since 1980 and learned in a Cessna 152 and 172, at Van Nuys Airport. As of 2013, he had logged more than 1,000 hours of flight time. Lipton is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1953 The Big Break Marty
2005 Bewitched Himself
2008 Bolt The Director Voice only
Igor Himself Voice only


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Pulitzer Prize Playhouse Himself Episode: "The Silver Cord
Armstrong Circle Theatre Himself Episode: "Mountain Song"
1952 CBS Television Workshop Himself Episode: "My Eyes Have a Cold Nose"
1952-1962 Guiding Light Dr. Dick Grant
You Are There Michelangelo Episode: "The Recognition of Michelangelo"
1954 Inner Sanctum Tony Episode: "Guilty Secret"
The Goldbergs Lotzi Episode: "August 10, 1954"
1994-present Inside the Actors Studio Himself Creator, Writer, Executive producer, Host
2002, 2011 The Simpsons Himself 2 episodes
2004–2005, 2013 Arrested Development Warden Stefan Gentles 4 episodes
2005 Cold Squad Uniform Cop Episode: "Borders"
2006 Joey Himself Episode: "Joey and the Actors Studio "
2008 According to Jim Devil Episode: "The Devil Went Down to Oak Park"
2009 Family Guy Himself Episode: "Spies Reminiscent of Us"
Saturday Night Live Himself Episode: "Bradley Cooper/TV on the Radio"
2012 Celebrity Apprentice Himself Episode: "Getting Medieval"
Glee Himself Episode: "Goodbye"
Suburgatory Dr. Richard Rohl Episode: "Down Time"

Published works


  1. Lipton, James (host); Ford, Harrison (guest) (August 20, 2000). "Inside the Actors Studio: Harrison Ford (2000)". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 6. Episode 12. NBCUniversal. Bravo. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "James Lipton". Bravo. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Dubin, Murray (October 13, 2002). "So nice, he makes grown men cry James Lipton gets ribbed for his unctuous interviews on TV's "Inside the Actors Studio." But somehow he's turned Spike Lee and Gene Hackman teary.". philly.com. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  4. Lipton, Nettie (1983). "The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America". In Charters, Ann. Dictionary of Literary Biography. 16. University of Connecticut. pp. 352–356. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "James Lipton Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  6. Bloom, Nate (2004-04-02). "Celebrity Jews". Jewish SF. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  7. "USC Rare Books & Manuscripts". University of Southern California. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  8. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0513851/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Rader, Dotson (May 28, 2013). "Inside the Actors Studio Host James Lipton on His Favorite Interview and Pimping in Paris". Parade. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Lipton, James (guest); Chappelle, Dave (host) (November 10, 2008). "Inside the Actors Studio: James Lipton (2008)". Inside the Actors Studio. Season 15. Episode 2. NBCUniversal. Bravo. 
  11. Ernst, Amanda (April 12, 2012). "SO WHAT DO YOU DO, JAMES LIPTON, CREATOR AND HOST OF INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO?". Mediabistro. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  12. Lipton, James (1993-11-01). An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-017096-0. 
  13. Simone, Daniel (February 8, 2008), "Who's Here", Dan's Papers, Kathy Rae, Brown Publishing, vol. XLVII no. 44, pp. 25–26, retrieved April 27, 2013 
  14. "family guy voices seth macfarlane". Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  15. "Pilots: James Lipton-Inside this television host is a pilot". Airplane Owners and Pilots Association. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  16. "Pilots: James Lipton". AOPA. January 1, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 

External links

Preceded by
Irna Phillips & William J. Bell
Head Writer of Another World
March 1965–October 1965
Succeeded by
Agnes Nixon
Preceded by
Agnes Nixon
Head Writer of Guiding Light
Succeeded by
Irna Phillips
Preceded by
Ira Avery & Stanley H. Silverman
Head Writer of The Doctors
(with) Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock

Early 1970s–1974
Succeeded by
Margaret DePriest
Preceded by
Robert Soderberg & Edith Sommer
Head Writer of Guiding Light
Succeeded by
Bridget and Jerome Dobson
Preceded by
Henry Slesar
Head Writer of Capitol
Succeeded by
Show Canceled