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'Inside the Actors Studio' host James Lipton: I was a pimp in Paris

James Lipton.
James Lipton.Today

James Lipton has interviewed countless celebrities about their jobs on his long-running Bravo series "Inside the Actors Studio." But that doesn't mean that the 86-year-old (who has also appeared on TV shows including "Arrested Development") can't trump all of them with one of his own former jobs: As a pimp in Paris in the 1950s.

As he told Parade magazine, "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.'”

The "underworld," literally -- but that meant prostitution. "Young women desperately needed money for various reasons," he said. "(They) were beautiful and young and extraordinary" -- and "inspected medically" each week.

He was cleared by those who ran "le milieu" ("otherwise they would have found me floating in the Seine") and ended up representing an entire bordello of ladies of the night. "I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year," he said. "That's how I lived. I was going through my rights of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."

Lipton went on to hold many other jobs -- including writer for soap operas, including "Another World" and "Guiding Light" -- before establishing a non-credit class at the Actors Studio Drama School and starting up the TV show in 1994. It will air its 250th episode on May 29.

Still, despite his experience in 1950s Paris, Lipton says a person shouldn't pay for sex: "I think if you can't earn it on your own, then you don't deserve it."