James Lipton dead

Actor and television personality James Lipton has died at the age of 93. Lipton was best known as the creator and host of the long-running TV series Inside the Actors Studio, which he hosted for 22 seasons. He won an Emmy for his work on the show, was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Emmys, and won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Reality Show Host in 2016.

According to his wife (via Deadline), Lipton passed away from bladder cancer today in his Manhattan home.

Inside the Actors Studio, a series of taped long-form interviews with top-tier actors, directors, and writers, began airing on Bravo in 1994 with Lipton as its host. He retired from the show in 2018 as it moved to a different network, Ovation, and began using rotating guest hosts. In addition to creating, executive producing, and being the face of that series, Lipton was an actor, screenwriter, choreographer, lyricist, author, and academic. I was also surprised to discover that he was a pimp in Paris during the 1950s. I’ll let The Hollywood Reporter fill you in on how that happened:

After finishing a film in Greece, he traveled to France and decided it wasn’t quite time to return home. He connected with a woman who made her living performing sex while others watched.

“One night, I told her I had to go back to the United States. She said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘You’re broke, aren’t you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes.’ She said, ‘No problem, you’ll be my mac,'” Lipton told [THR reporter Scott] Feinberg.

And for the next few months Lipton worked in Paris as her “mac,” aka pimp. He went on to explain that after World War II, during tough economic times, the profession was respectable. “We did a roaring business,” Lipton said. “It was a great time of my life.”

Lipton’s distinctive speaking style was ripe for parody, and Will Ferrell‘s impression on Saturday Night Live was the best of the bunch:

Some celebrities bristle at others’ impressions of them, but Lipton always had a great sense of humor, poking fun at himself on screen years later in a supporting role in the early seasons of Arrested Development. (He was also a close friend of Donald Trump’s, but we’ll try not to hold that against him.)

Accompanying questions inspired by his exhaustive research, Lipton would always ask his guests a set list of questions, the last of which being, “If heaven exists,¬†what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?” If Lipton ever answered that question himself, here’s hoping he hears what he wanted to hear.

Check out some highlights of his career below.

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