Inside the Actors Studio
James Lipton is a writer, actor, poet, host, producer and composer. He first gained attention playing Dr. Dick Grant (1952-1962) on “The Guiding Light,” where he also served as a head writer. He did not achieve widespread popularity until he created the successful television series “Inside the Actors Studio” (Bravo, 1994-current), which he also hosts. The show has earned him numerous Emmy nominations and a CableACE award. Adding to “The Guiding Light,” Lipton has also lent his writing talents for the soap operas “Another World,” “The Edge of Night,” “The Best of Everything,” “Return to Peyton Place” and “Capitol.” He has produced twelve Bob Hope birthday specials and “President Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Gala” and the Tony award winning “Ain't Misbehavin'” (1978), among other Broadway plays. He also wrote the book and the lyrics for the Broadway musical “Sherry” (1967) and is the author of the best selling book “An Exaltation of Larks” (first published in 1968) and the novel “Mirrors” (1985), which he transformed into a TV film in 1985. Lipton is the former dean of the Actors Studio Drama School of New York's New School University and was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 Daytime Emmy Awards.
On the personal front, Lipton has been married twice. His first wife, actress Nina Foch (together from 1954 until 1959), died on December 5, 2008. He is now married to Kedakai Turner. Lipton is a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Besides English, he is fluent in Latin and French.
Childhood and Family:
An only child, James Lipton was born on September 19, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Lawrence Lipton (born on October 10, 1898; died on July 9, 1975), was a journalist, writer and poet and is known for writing “Holy Barbarians.” He was also a graphic designer and publicity director for a movie theater. His mother, Betty Weinberg, was a teacher and librarian. The two divorced when James was young. James graduated from Detroit's Central High School in 1944. He originally thought about becoming a lawyer and turned to acting to support his law studies. He, however, later switched to a career in acting. James moved to New York City and began training in the performing arts. He spent two and a half years studying directing and acting under legendary coach Stella Adler. Additionally, he studied acting for four years with Howard Clurman and two years with Robert Lewis. James studied movie and TV production and directing at New York University and at The New School. He also studied voice, classical ballet, modern dance, and jazz techniques.
On June 12, 1954, James married Dutch born American actress Nina Foch (born in April 1924), but they divorced in February 1959. In 1970, he married Kedakai Turner, a model and real estate broker.
The Guiding Light
James Lipton first entered show business in the 1940s when he played Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger's nephew, on the radio show “The Lone Ranger.” His Broadway debut came in 1951 when he landed a role in “The Autumn Garden,” by Lillian Hellman. He quickly branched out to television with appearances in the “Pulitzer Prize Playhouse” episode “The Silver Cord” in 1951, the “Armstrong Circle Theatre” episode “Mountain Song,” (1951) and the “CBS Television Workshop” episode “My Eyes Have a Cold Nose” in 1952. He then joined the cast of the CBS long running soap opera “The Guiding Light,” where he portrayed Dr. Dick Grant from 1952 to 1962. Lipton also contributed to the series' scripts for several years and eventually became a head writer for the series.
Lipton made his big screen debut in “The Big Break” (1953), a movie directed by Joseph Strick. In the film, he played Marty, a shipping clerk turned mob member. He also made guest appearances in CBS' “You Are There” (1953, as Michelangelo) and NBC's “Inner Sanctum” (1954, as Tony).
In the 1960s, Lipton provided scripts for the soap operas “Another World” (unknown episode, 1965) and “The Edge of Night” (1968-1969). Meanwhile, on stage, he wrote the book and the lyrics for the successful Broadway play “Nowhere to Go But Up” (1962) and reprised the duty five years later for the Broadway musical “Sherry.” The play, based on the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart play “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” opened on March 28, 1967, at the Alvin Theatre, where it ran for 72 performances. After the show closed, the score and orchestrations were lost and discovered over three decades later at the Library of Congress. A studio recording was later produced in 2003. 1968 saw Lipton publish his best selling book titled “An Exaltation of Larks.” Since the first edition, it has been in print and revised several times.
Lipton returned to the small screen when he wrote for the short lived ABC daytime soap “The Best of Everything” (1970) and served as head writer on the NBC soap opera “Return to Peyton Place” (1972). In 1977, he executive produced and created “Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Gala,” the first presidential inaugural gala to be televised. The following year, he executive produced and co-wrote the entertaining TV special “Happy Birthday, Bob,” a 75th birthday salute to comedian Bob Hope. He also produced Hope's 1979 special, “Bob Hope on the Road to China,” and executive produced and co-wrote the 1989 special “Ooh-La-La: It's Bob Hope's Fun Birthday Spectacular from Paris' Bicentennial.” On Broadway, Lipton produced “The Mighty Gents” (1978), “Monteith & Rand” (1979) and co-produced the Tony award winning “Ain't Misbehavin'” (1978).
In 1983, Lipton emerged as a novelist with the release of “Mirrors,” which was about dancers. It was adapted into a television film of the same title in 1985 with Lipton producing and writing the screenplay. The movie starred Tim Daly as Chris Philips and Marguerite Hickey as Karin. The same year, he also wrote the Emmy winning television movie “Copacabana” (CBS), starring Barry Manilow and Annette O'Toole. He returned to soap operas with CBS' “Capitol,” where he served as a head writer from 1984 to 1987.
In the early 1990s, Lipton wanted to create a three year learning program for actors. In 1994, he set up the Actors Studio to join the New School University, in New York City, to found the Actors Studio Drama School. Lipton served as the dean of the drama school for ten years before earning the title of Dean Emeritus. During the same time, Lipton created a project inside the Actors Studio Drama School called “Inside the Actors Studio” (1994), a non credit class in which skilled and flourishing writers, directors and actors would be interviewed and asked questions from acting students. The meetings were also taped and aired on television.
Debuting on the Bravo cable television channel on August 14, 1994, the talk show “Inside the Actors Studio,” hosted by Lipton, who also served as executive producer, went on to enjoy huge success. It has won many awards and even more nominations and has interviewed over 200 guests, including such legends as Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman. Lipton also became the subject of the show in its 200th show, during which time he was questioned by Dave Chappelle. Based on the show, he wrote the book “Inside Inside” (2007).
Lipton has also appeared in a number of television shows, including “Last Call with Carson Daly,” “The Charlie Rose Show,” “The Tony Danza Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien” and “The Bonnie Hunt Show.” He also appeared in the TV miniseries “The Hamptons” (2002), the movie “Bewitched” (2005) and the animated film “Igor” (2008). He returned to acting when he landed the recurring role of Warden Stefan Gentles on “Arrested Development” in 2004. In 2005, he appeared in two episodes of “Cold Squad.” Lipton then played the Devil in an episode of “According to Jim” called “The Devil Went Down to Oak Park” (2008) and provided the voice of the Director in the Academy Award nominated animated feature “Bolt” (2008), which starred the voice of John Travolta.
Daytime Emmy: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2007
CableACE: Talk Show Series, “Inside the Actors Studio,” 1997