R.I.P. James Lipton, who went from soap operas to host of Inside the Actors Studio

The Detroit native also played the Lone Ranger's nephew and produced Bob Hope specials.

Images: The Everett Collection

Everyone knows James Lipton as the host of Inside the Actors Studio. Bespectacled and bearded, the erudite thespian would hold intellectual conversations about the acting craft with everyone from Mary Tyler Moore to Julianne Moore. The cable talk show began airing in 1994 on the Bravo network, and has recently continued to run on Ovation. 

But James Lipton has a career stretching back decades. From watching Actors Studio, one might expect him to have logged hundreds of hours performing Shakespeare on stages. But in reality, he mostly worked in daytime soap operas.

In the early 1950s, Lipton kickstarted his career on Guiding Light. The Detroit native worked as a head writer on the program — and also appeared in front of the camera. He portrayed Dr. Dick Grant in 1953, as pictured above on the left. Lipton later wrote for the soaps The Best of Everything, The Doctors and Return to Peyton Place.

Before that, young Lipton began as a voice on The Lone Ranger radio program, which began on WXYZ in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, before becoming nationally syndicated. Lipton played Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger's nephew.

Later in life, as a producer, Lipton frequently worked with Bob Hope in the 1970s and 1980s, overseeing specials such as Happy Birthday, Bob (1978) and Bob Hope's High-Flying Birthday Extravaganza (1987). 

His Actors Studio fame made him a celebrity, lovingly spoofed on Saturday Night Live and a comedic cameo on shows like The Simpsons and Glee.

One of his final roles as an actor himself was on the sitcom Arrested Development, where he played a prison warden.

Lipton passed away on March 2 at his home in Manhattan, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 93.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


jacko3 39 months ago
James Lipton - fine talent - LORD Bless Forever - Amen - Alleluia!
JHP 42 months ago
Tell me if I am wrong - wasn't he on a Colombo ep?
jacko3 50 months ago
James Lipton May GOD Bless your ....
Diamonds64 51 months ago
He was a fantastic interviewer. I loved The Actor Studio. So happy I can watch the repeats. RIP Mr. Lipton. You will be missed big time!!! One class act!!!
jacko3 51 months ago
May the Good LORD be with - James Lipton
RobCertSDSCascap 52 months ago
RIP, Mr. Lipton.
You were scrumtralescent!
teire 52 months ago
If heaven ...
Thank you for the insights.
Catman 52 months ago
I learned an appreciation for the actors' craft from JL's interviews. I looked at performances in an entirely new way after watching TAS.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?