This ‘Arrested Development’ Actor Used To Be a Pimp in Paris

Arrested Development is a sitcom that ran in the early 2000s. Even though it has not been on the air for over a decade, fans still turn to the series when they want to enjoy whip-sharp writing, clever character development, and hilarious storylines. Arrested Development has earned cult classic status, and has been universally critically acclaimed, winning a host of awards.

Many of the actors who starred in Arrested Development have remained closely associated with the roles that they played in the show. However, James Lipton, who appeared in several episodes of the show, was able to carve out a whole separate career as the host of a popular Bravo series. Although he died in 2020, Lipton opened up several years before his death about his early career in Paris, shocking those who knew him only as a mild-mannered host. 

‘Arrested Development’ is a cult classic television show

Arrested Development first started airing on television in 2003. The show told the story of the Bluths, a wealthy dysfunctional family who are forced to adapt their lifestyle when they suddenly become poverty-stricken. One thing that doesn’t change so easily, however, is their mindsets — and during the course of each episode, viewers watch as the Bluths struggle with things that ordinary people deal with on a day-to-day basis. 

Set in Newport Beach, California, Arrested Development quickly became popular with critics and fans. Over time, the show won many awards, including six Primetime Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award. In addition, the actors themselves received praise, with series leads like Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, and Will Arnett getting the lion’s share of credit for helping to make the series a success. However, the secondary actors in the show undoubtedly played a big role in making Arrested Development so memorable — including the character Lipton played. 

Who did James Lipton play in ‘Arrested Development’

James Lipton arrives at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
James Lipton | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Lipton was born in Michigan in 1926. He entered the workforce early, helping to make money for his family when he was just 13 years old. He got his start in the entertainment industry when he was very young, lending his voice to various radio productions. Lipton’s career spanned radio, television, and film, and by the early 2000s, he was a widely recognized character actor, known for his distinctive voice.

Lipton appeared in several episodes of Arrested Development, playing Stefan Gentles, the warden of Orange County Prison. An aspiring screenwriter, Stefan Gentles is obsessed with the entertainment industry and is particularly drawn to Lucille Bluth. 

James Lipton opened up about his time working as a pimp in France

In real life, Lipton was a well-respected actor and the longtime host of the Bravo show Inside the Actors Studio. Still, long before he was expounding on character development, Lipton was working in a much different profession in Paris, France.

In 2013, Lipton revealed that he once worked as a pimp, long before he made it big as an actor. As reported by Vanity Fair, Lipton stated: “It was only a few years after the war…Paris was different then, still poor. Men couldn’t get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn’t get work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu.”

“I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. . . I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life,” the actor and host detailed. Not long after his stint as a pimp in Paris, Lipton made a return to American screens, acting in television productions. Lipton died in March 2020, leaving behind a fascinating, complicated legacy.

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