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James Lipton, Inside the Actors Studio Host and Writer of 2 Broadway Musicals, Dies

Lipton was 93.

James Lipton has died at 93.
(© David Gordon)

James Lipton, the theatrical academic and television host of the popular Inside the Actors Studio series, has died at the age of 93, according to published reports.

Born September 19, 1926, in Detroit, Lipton began his career on the radio, playing Dan Reid, nephew of the titular Lone Ranger, after graduating high school. Following service during World War II, he headed to New York with plans of becoming a lawyer, but realized he wanted to be an actor after getting accepted into Stella Adler's class. He made his Broadway debut in Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden in 1951, a production that would mark his only Broadway acting credit.

Lipton, however, did pen two Broadway musicals, failures as they were. Nowhere to Go But Up, which featured Lipton's book and lyrics and Sidney Lumet's direction, played a total of 12 performances in 1962. Another effort, a musicalization of The Man Who Came to Dinner called Sherry!, ran for only 86 shows in 1967. That score was long thought to be lost, until it was rediscovered in the Library of Congress and later resulted in a studio album featuring Nathan Lane, Carol Burnett, and Bernadette Peters. A musical Lipton wrote with Cy Colman, titled Encounter, was later abandoned.

However, Lipton is best known for Inside the Actors Studio, his television series where he would conduct in depth interviews with celebrated actors, directors, and writers, who would answer his questions and those of acting students. He hosted the program for more than two decades, before stepping down in 2018.

He is survived by his wife, Kedakai Turner Lipton.


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