James Lipton, host of 'Inside the Actors Studio,' dies at 93

Lipton, who studied performing arts for 12 years, was best known for his role in the creation of "Inside the Actors Studio" in 1994.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Doha Madani

James Lipton, best known for his role as creator and host of "Inside the Actors Studio," died Monday at his home. He was 93.

His wife, Kedakai Turner Lipton, told NBC News that Lipton died just after midnight Monday morning amid his battle with bladder cancer. She said that her husband's work was his passion and that he empowered people to be the best version of themselves.

Born in Detroit to two Jewish immigrants, Lipton moved to New York City to study acting after leaving the Air Force. Lipton took on a number of roles since his career began in the 1950s, including actor, writer and producer. He worked both on Broadway and as a writer and actor for soap opera "Guiding Light."

But Lipton, who studied performing arts for 12 years, was best known for his role in the creation of "Inside the Actors Studio" in 1994. Lipton served as host for 22 seasons and interviewed scores of world-renowned actors and directors as part of the Actors Studio Drama School.

Notable guests on the show range from Paul Newman to Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg to Stephen Sondheim.

Lipton retired from the series in 2018, 24 years after its original release, according to Vanity Fair. The show switched networks from Bravo to Ovation in 2019, and Lipton was replaced with a rotating selection of guest hosts.

The Actors Studio moved from New School to Pace University in 2006, where Lipton served as dean emeritus.

"It’s very gratifying to see the legacy of 'Inside the Actors Studio' being carried forward for a new generation to appreciate and enjoy," Lipton said at the time. "I made a vow early on that we would not deal in gossip — only in craft, and Ovation, as a network dedicated to the arts, will continue that tradition with the next seasons of the series."

Ovation announced his death in a statement Monday, calling Lipton a "multi-hyphenate actor-iconoclast."

"Lipton will be remembered for his passion, dogged spirit, and indelible contribution to the world of performing arts," the network said.

President of NBCU Lifestyle Networks Frances Berwick called Lipton a "titan of the film and entertainment industry" in a statement.

"I had the pleasure of working with Jim for 20 years on Bravo's first original series, his pride and joy 'Inside the Actors Studio,'" Berwick said. "We all enjoyed and respected his fierce passion, contributions to the craft, comprehensive research and his ability to bring the most intimate interviews ever conducted with A-list actors across generations."

Bravo is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

Pace University President Marvin Krislov said Lipton's legacy will live on in the generations of actors he inspired.

"James Lipton was a great writer and actor, a great interviewer, and, most important, a great teacher," Krislov said in a statement. "He was a revered leader of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, and we are all deeply saddened by this loss."