James Lipton, the creator and host of the Bravo series Inside the Actors Studio, has died, his wife Kedakai Turner told TMZ. He was 93. Turner told the news outlet that Lipton had been battling bladder cancer and that he died peacefully Monday morning at his New York City home.
"There are so many James Lipton stories but I'm sure he would like to be remembered as someone who loved what he did and had tremendous respect for all the people he worked with," Turner said.
Lipton interviewed actors big and small for Inside the Actors Studio, which was filmed in front of a live audience full of student actors, some of whom got a chance to ask questions from time to time. He started the show in 1994, and after 22 seasons retired in 2018. The program moved from Bravo to Ovation, continuing with other hosts, and is still ongoing.
Lipton, who served as the Dean of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University for several years (and subsequently Dean Emeritus), interviewed the likes of Ben Affleck, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, Willem Dafoe, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Ron Howard, Ian McKellan, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Betty White, Henry Winkler and Naomi Watts.
A lover of words, Lipton was known for his intricately crafted questions and precise manner of delivery. His distinctive style led to a number of parodies, most notably Will Ferrell's dead-on imitation in a series of Saturday Night Live sketches.
"I love it. It's very flattering," Lipton told CNN in 2012. "It think he's got me cold."
Lipton's long spanning career started in radio and included stints as an actor, scriptwriter, choreographer, lyricist, author, producer and academic. His marriage from 1954-59 to actress Nina Foch ended in divorce. In 1970, he marred model Kedaki Turner, who is most well known for portraying Miss Scarlett in the Clue board game.
Born Louis James Lipton in 1926, Lipton began working while in his teens as a copyboy for The Detroit Times and as an actor for the Catholic Theater of Detroit. After graduating high school in 1944, he landed the role of Dan Reid, the nephew of The Lone Ranger, in WXYZ's radio program about the masked Western hero.
He enlisted in the Air Force during World War II, then headed to New York to become a lawyer. In a 2013 interview, he said about five years into his acting career — which he embarked on to help him earn a living so that he could become a lawyer — he told himself, "Stop kidding. You don't want to be a lawyer. This is what you want to do."
After spending many years acting and writing, he began producing television specials, starting in 1977 with Jimmy Carter's Inauguration Gala.0comments
Inside the Actors Studio earned Lipton quite a bit of popularity, which led to a resurgence in his acting career. He played himself in the 2005 feature Bewitched and appeared on the TV series Arrested Development, Glee, Suburgatory, Joey and According to Jim. Animated versions of him appeared on The Simpsons and Family Guy. His voice is also featured in the 2008 animated film Bolt.
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