James Lipton

James Lipton Biography

Writer, Actor, Educator, Television Producer, Radio Talk Show Host (1926–)
Actor, writer and producer James Lipton founded the Actors Studio Drama School and has hosted Bravo TV's Inside the Actors Studio since 1994.


Born on September 19, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan, James Lipton launched his acting career with a role in the Broadway play The Autumn Garden. In 1953, he got his big break with a role on Guiding Light. In 1994, he founded the Actors Studio Drama School and started hosting the Bravo show Inside the Actors Studio. In 2002, Lipton retired as dean of the school, but continued to host the show.

Early Life

The only child of Lawrence Lipton and Betty Weinberg, James Lipton was born on September 19, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Lipton's father was a graphic artist, a theater publicity director, a journalist and an aspiring writer of poetry and fiction; his mother was a teacher. They divorced in the late 1930s.

Lipton was a bright child, who, by his own account, began reading at the early age of 2. By age 3, he was composing poetry. By age 12, he had already written his third novel.

In 1944 Lipton graduated from Central High School. He started his extensive higher education at Wayne State University, and then went on to spend more than a decade training in the theatrical arts, including modern dance, ballet and voice, studying under the theatrical masters of the time.

In the early 1940s, Lipton took a stab at radio theater, with a recurring role on The Lone Ranger. After World War II, he moved to Paris, where he earned a living setting client appointments for French prostitutes. Eventually, he returned to the States to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

Acting Career

Lipton launched his acting career with a role in Lillian Hellman's Broadway play The Autumn Garden. In 1951, he made his foray into television by appearing on an episode of the series Pulitzer Prize Playhouse. That same year, he also made an appearance on the TV show Armstrong Circle Theater.

In 1953, Lipton got his big break when he was given the role of Dr. Dick Grant on the television soap opera Guiding Light. He played Dr. Grant for 10 years, and has since acted in a number of TV and movie roles.

Writer and Producer

Working on Guiding Light afforded Lipton the opportunity to write scripts for the show. After establishing a name for himself in the soap-opera industry, Lipton was invited to write for other popular soap operas, including Another World, Peyton Place and The Edge of Night.

In addition to scripting soap operas, Lipton has written and produced hundreds of hours of television programming, including NBC’s Mirrors, which he adapted from his own novel. Lipton's writing accomplishments are so expansive as to include composing lyrics for the musicals Nowhere to Go But Up and Sherry!

As a producer, he is responsible for widely celebrated TV specials, including several Bob Hope birthday specials and the first-ever televised presidential concert.

The Actors Studio

In 1994, Lipton founded the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City and became its dean. The school connected the Actors Studio, known for teaching Method acting, with the New School University. That year Lipton also started hosting the Bravo TV show Inside the Actors Studio. Inside The Actors Studio has become a forum for Lipton's highly candid, up-close-and-personal interviews with more than 250 actors, screenwriters and directors, with an audience of drama students participating in their own Q&A session at the end of every episode. In 2002, Lipton retired as dean of the school, but continued to host Inside the Actors Studio. After its contract finished at the New School, the Actors Studio moved its drama school to Pace University in 2006.

Personal Life

Lipton married actress Nina Foch in 1954. The couple divorced five years later. In 1970, Lipton remarried, to model and real estate broker Kedakai Turner.

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