Wikipedia Reviews: James Lipton

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Welcome to Wikipedia Wednesdays, a new feature where we review Wikipedia pages on Wednesdays. 

The intro to James Lipton’s Wikipedia is what you would expect: “James Lipton (born September 19, 1926) is an American writer, lyricist, actor and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City. He is the executive producer, writer and host of the Bravo cable television series Inside the Actors Studio, which debuted in 1994.” Nice, succinct, accurate.

The first real shock comes when you look over at the fast facts sidebar and see that James Lipton is 90 years old. This is the reason I ended up on James Lipton’s Wikipedia in the first place. When I was out for sushi last weekend, a bottle and a half of BYOB white wine deep, someone said that James Lipton is only a decade short of a century. “No!” I said. But the truth is yes. James Lipton is old as shit. He looks great!

The second shock is that James Lipton is from Detroit, Michigan. He does not seem like a Midwesterner. My roommate is from Detroit, and when I told her this she said, “Isn’t he British?”

Lipton’s Early Life section reads like a Beverly Cleary novel. When Lipton was 6 years old, his father abandoned their family. This isn’t a surprising fact. More of a sad turn to the narrative. At 13 years old, Lipton made money as a copy boy for The Detroit Times. At this point, Lipton is an underdog and I am rooting for him.  

The Career section progresses as you might expect—acting gigs, his Arrested Development cameo—but buried in the middle is a fact that left me shook. James Lipton wrote the linguistics book An Exaltation of Larks. Uhhhhm! What! I love! that! book!  I used to lay on my stomach in my grandpa’s office and page through his copy, staring at all the illustrations. I’ve carried a paperback of Exaltation to every apartment I’ve lived in since college, and I’ve never paused to think, “Hmmm, is the James Lipton who wrote this book the same one who hosts Inside the Actor’s Studio?”

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It turns out James Lipton has been with me my entire life, loyally at my side, gently guiding me in my love of the English language.

Then we get to the final section, Personal Life, and things really go off the rails. “He has been married to Kedakai Turner, a model and real estate broker, since 1970. Turner is well known as the model playing Ms. Scarlett on the cover of the popular board game Clue.”

Never forget: James Lipton is married to Ms. Scarlett. As in, “Miss Scarlett, inside the actor’s studio, with the pipe.”  

There is one final twist waiting near the end of the Personal Life section. “He also revealed that during the 1950s, he had been a procurer of prostitutes in Paris.” Why is this a fact we need to know? Who scrolled through James Lipton’s Wikipedia and was like, “Hmmm, pretty thorough, but it’s missing the french whores.”

James Lipton: Host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, author of well-loved linguistics study An Exaltation of Larks, husband of murder suspect Miss Scarlett, lover of Parisian prostitutes. What a collection of facts; What a wonderful journey we have had.

Megan KirbyComment