James Lipton, the multitalented familiar face who hosted "Inside the Actors Studio," has died at the age of 93, Ovation, the network that now airs the show, confirmed in a statement.
In addition to his role at the helm of the long-running series, Lipton was a prolific writer and producer. Born in Detroit, Lipton rose to the level of celebrity when he began hosting the series that also served as a class for his students at the Actors Studio, where he was dean.
“We celebrate and honor the great legacy of James Lipton," Ovation said in a statement provided by PR director Roger Lawson. "James is beloved around the world for his passion, insight, and dedication to the craft of acting. With 'Inside the Actors Studio,' James has created a long-lasting impact on the acting world. Ovation mourns his loss and offers deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans."
As an actor, Lipton appeared most recently in the reboot of "Arrested Development, according to IMDb.
His wife, Kedakai Mercedes Lipton, told The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter he died of bladder cancer. USA TODAY has reached out to Lipton's representative for comment.
"Inside the Actors Studio" aired for more than 20 years on Bravo, premiering in 1994. Lipton interviewed Hollywood icons including Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Sally Field and Julia Roberts in his time as host.
Lipton said his favorite guest on the show was Bradley Cooper, because he was a former student.
“The night that one of my students has achieved so much that he or she comes back and sits down in that chair would be the night that I have waited for since we started this thing,” Lipton told Larry King in 2016. “It turned out to be Bradley Cooper.”
When the show announced in 2019 that it would move to Ovation, Lipton departed.
“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 told The Hollywood Reporter when he retired from the series. “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. I’m excited to see the new hosts engage with the guests and students and continue to entertain viewers in the U.S. and around the world.”
His early acting roles included Dr. Dick Grant in "The Guiding Light" in 1953 and Michelangelo in "You Are There" that same year. But he found more success as a writer, eventually becoming head writer on "The Guiding Light." He later worked on more than 400 episodes on the '70s series "The Doctors."
His most recent writing credits are for two 2019 episodes of "Inside the Actors Studio."
Bravo mainstay Andy Cohen took to Twitter to mourn Lipton, writing: "(Lipton) was a warm, meticulous man with a great appreciation of the arts and wicked sense of humor. He was the face of Bravo who delivered us one-of-a-kind interviews with a breadth of superstars. He was always so kind to me... when he found out how much I love Diana Ross, he insisted on taking me to see her in concert. He really cared about what he did. If you got booked on his show, it meant you’d made it, and had the talent to back it up. What a good guy. James Lipton will be missed."
Frances Berwick, president of NBCU Lifestyle Networks, said in a statement sent to USA TODAY: “James Lipton was a titan of the film and entertainment industry and had a profound influence on so many. 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.’ 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 and NBCUniversal send our deepest condolences to Jim's wife Kedakai and all his family.“
Lipton's time in the limelight was not totally free of controversy. He memorably raised eyebrows when revealed in a 2013 interview with Parade that he was a pimp in the 1950s.
"It was only a few years after the war," he said in the 2013 interview. "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."