James Lipton served as host of Inside the Actors studio for nearly 25 years

By Eric Todisco
March 02, 2020 01:28 PM
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James Lipton, executive producer, writer and host of Inside the Actors Studio, has died. He was 93.

Lipton’s wife Kendekai Turner told The New York Times that he died at his Manhattan home Monday from bladder cancer.

In 1994, he created Inside the Actors Studio and served as the host and executive producer from its inception until he stepped down in September 2018 after nearly 25 years. The show was one of cable’s longest-running series. He had also served as the Dean Emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City for several years.

Born in Detroit on Sept. 19, 1926, Lipton enlisted in the Air Force during World War II and then moved to New York with hopes of becoming a lawyer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He would later go on to study movie/TV production and directing at New York University and The New School.

Credit: Anthony Behar/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Before launching Inside the Actors Studio, Lipton worked as an actor, appearing in TV shows throughout the 1950s including You Are There and Guiding Light. He most recently made an appearance on several episodes of Arrested Development as Warden Stefan Gentles.

Inside the Actors Studio focused on in-depth interviews with famous actors and actresses about their craft and careers. Lipton interviewed over 200 guests on the show, which began with Paul Newman who served as the Actors Studio president at the time.

Credit: Anthony Behar/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

The series has been nominated for 20 Emmy Awards in the outstanding informational series or special category and received the Emmy in 2013.

A-list actors who have appeared on the show include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Al Pacino, Barbara Streisand, Clint Eastwood, as well as directors such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

In June 2016, Lipton told Steve Adubato in an interview about his favorite moment on the show, saying, “For decades, I was asked what guest do you want the most? You know what my answer was? The night that one of our graduated students has achieved so much that he comes back to our stage and sits next to me as my guest. And Bradley was the one.”

Lipton often ended his interviews with the famous Proust questionnaire — a list of 10 personality questions that delved into favorite words, quirks and what they imagined God would say to them if they entered Heaven.

Before his 1970 wedding to Turner, Lipton was married to actress Nina Foch from 1954 to 1959. He had no children.