James Lipton of Guiding Light and Inside the Actors Studio

Image: Jill Johnson/JPI

Television host, voice actor, soap writer and Guiding Light alum passes away.

Soaps.com is saddened to report that James Lipton has passed away at the age of 93. The news was confirmed on Twitter by the Ovation network, sharing “Beloved Inside the #ActorsStudio host James Lipton has died at 93. We’ll miss him dearly, but we wish him peace as he arrives at those pearly gates.” Lipton died Monday morning at home after a battle with bladder cancer, his wife, Kedakai Mercedes Lipton, told the New York Times.

James Lipton was born Louis James Lipton in Detroit, Michigan. His mother was a teacher and a librarian, and his father a Polish Jewish immigrant, journalist and poet. Lipton’s parents divorced when he was young. Lipton took up a career in law with acting as a way to finance his law studies. Overtime his career shifted to acting. Lipton moved to New York City and spent years studying the performing arts, including learning under Stella Adler, who is widely regarded as the most respected acting teacher in the history of American dramatic arts. Lipton studied movie/TV production and directing at New York University and at The New School. He also studied voice, modern dance, classical ballet, and jazz technique. Lipton was married to Nina Foch from 1954 until 1959, and Kedakai Turner from 1970 until his death.

In 1952 Lipton served as the head writer for Guiding Light, and in 1953 he played Dr. Dick Grant on the soap opera. Beginning in the 1960s he became active behind the scenes of several TV soap operas as a writer on Another World in 1965, head writer on The Best of Everything in 1970, writing for The Doctors from 1972 until 1974, as head writer on Return to Peyton Place also from 1972 until 1974. Finally, he served as the head writer of Capitol between 1986 and 1987.

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Lipton has appeared in numerous television shows and movies over the years. He played himself in the big-screen adaptation of Bewitched in 2005. He’s done voice acting in 2008’s Bolt for Disney MGM’s Igor. He’s voiced himself on The Simpsons in 2002 and 2011, and appeared on Celebrity Apprentice and Glee in 2012. He had the recurring role of Stefan Gentles on Arrested Development. Lipton also wrote books and lyrics for Broadway shows, produced shows on Broadway, and choreographed others. He published the bestselling book An Exaltation of Larks in 1968 and the book is still in print. In 1983 Lipton published his novel Mirrors, about the lives of dancers, which he adapted into a television movie which he also produced. He’s also written for Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine and The Paris Review.

In 1994 he arranged for the Actors Studio, the home base of “method acting” in the USA for some sixty years, to join with New York City’s New School University to form the Actors Studio Drama School, a formal degree-granting program at the graduate level. He served as the Dean and later Dean Emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama Program. It was in this role he eventually developed the television show he was best known for, Inside the Actors Studio, now in its 23rd season. Originally airing on Bravo, it moved to Ovation this past year. The show received 18 Emmy nominations over the years, winning one in 2013. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the Daytime Emmys in 2007.

Lipton is survived by his wife Kedakai Turner. Soaps.com sends condolences to Lipton’s friends and family and invites readers to browse a gallery of other soap stars lost in 2020.