‘Inside The Actors Studio’ Host James Lipton Dies at 93

James Lipton, host of the award-winning series Inside the Actors Studio, has died at the age of 93. His wife Kedakai Turner told The New York Times Lipton died at his home in Manhattan the morning of Mar. 2 after a battle with bladder cancer. He was highly regarded as an interviewer who focused on the craft of acting as opposed to gossip. Lipton was also an actor, writer, producer, and dean. 

'Inside the Actors Studio' James Lipton dies at 93
James Lipton | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

James Lipton’s early life  

Lipton was born in Detroit to Jewish immigrant parents. After serving in the Air Force, he became a voice actor on the radio. Lipton would go on to write for several soap operas, eventually playing an integral role on the soap, Guiding Light. Throughout his multi-faceted career, Lipton would study the many methods of entertainment, from voice and ballet to Broadway and beyond. A lover of literature, Lipton even wrote several of his own novels, including An Exaltation of Larks and Inside Inside

James Lipton helped create ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ 

When Lipton first learned of the Actors Studio in 1992, it was on the brink of becoming extinct due to a lack of steady income. Lipton implemented a master of fine arts program for actors, writers, and directors. Their tuition would help support the Actors Studio. When the school opened in partnership with the New School in Manhattan, Lipton served as an acting chairman and later became the dean. 

Eventually, the program moved to Pace University, where Lipton would interview successful writers, producers, and actors on a show titled Inside the Actors Studio. His 23-season run with the series allowed Lipton to speak with more than 250 celebrities, including Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Betty White, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, and Eddie Murphy. 

A lengedary host of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ 

Lipton took a unique approach with his interviews, speaking to celebrities in an unorthodox format on a low-budget stage with minimal distractions. He had an interview-style all his own, asking his colleagues questions about their experiences on-set and on-stage in the most intellectual of ways. In doing so, Lipton was able to extract some of the most unfiltered answers the public had ever heard. Lipton would conclude his interviews with the same question each time — “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?” 

Because of his unique take on interviews, Lipton made Inside the Actors Studio a hit for networks like Bravo and later, Ovation TV. Lipton’s style allowed him to gain the trust of his interviewees and earn high-regard amongst an international audience. 

The series would go on to win several accolades, including the CableACE award for the Best Talk Show in 1997 and an Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special in 2013. In 2016, Lipton won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Show Host.

In 2018, Inside the Actors Studio moved from Bravo to Ovation TV and Lipton stepped down as host. Lipton continued acting later in life, playing roles on shows like Family Guy and Arrested Development. Lipton was also a pilot who would take to skies in his free time. He will be remembered as revered host and creator.