"Inside the Actor's Studio" Host James Lipton Was a Pimp in the 50s. Literally.
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"Inside the Actor's Studio" Host James Lipton Was a Pimp in the 50s. Literally.

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | May 29, 2013 | Comments ()


James Lipton has been interviewing actors and directors for years, and while he's been a conduit for us in learning so much about Hollywood performers, I've never known much about the guy himself. Those of you who saw him on "Arrested Development" may be flabbergasted by how short he is, for instance (see above). I didn't know, for instance, that he used to write for soap operas, or what he provided the voice of Dan Reid in the 40's radio version of "The Lone Ranger," or that he was an actor, most notable for his role in 1953's The Big Break. In fact, he was married to Oscar nominated actress Nina Foch (Spartacus). He was quite a looker back in the day, too.


But most of all, I didn't know that Lipton used to be a goddamn pimp, until he admitted as much in an interview with Parade magazine.

Is it true you were a pimp in Paris in the 1950s? "I was. It was only a few years after the war. 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."

"Young women desperately needed money for various reasons. They were beautiful and young and extraordinary. There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated. Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time."

How did your involvement come about? You became friends with one of the prostitutes in Paris?
"We became great friends. When I ran out of money, I said, 'I have to go home.' She said, 'No, you don't. I'll arrange for you.' So she arranged for me to do it. I had to be okayed by the underworld; otherwise they would've found me floating in the Seine."

Did you represent more than one girl?
"Yes, a whole bordello. I represented them all, but her especially. I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. The French mecs didn't exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That's how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."

Do you think people should buy sex?
"I really don't. I think if you can't earn it on your own, then you don't deserve it."

What a life!. What. a. life.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Lipton discussed all this a few years ago on the 200th episode of Inside the Actors Studio where he was interviewed on the set by Dave Chappelle. It was pretty wonderful.

  • BlackRabbit

    Watch out, Fly Guy. There's a new Pimp Of The Year.

  • Steve

    He wrote about this in his book and first spoke about it on the Opie and Anthony show some time ago. Kudos to Parade for somehow getting the credit a month or more later.

  • googergieger

    "They say Pimpin' ain't easy. But what they don't tell you is being a prostitute is much, much, harder."-Norm Macdonald

  • “I think if you can’t earn it on your own, then you don’t deserve it.”

    Amen. Preach it, Jimmy.

  • disqus_N4EigheiZo

    Is it weird that I knew this? Because I have a very faint memory of hearing him say "mec" in an interview, and now I'm wondering what other random pieces of trivia and memories I've repressed.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Plus he wrote a book of collective noun names called An Exhaltation of Larks which my parents owned a copy of, and the Dowager Julien no doubt still has as she's not big on surrendering books.

    I think Lipton needs to interview himself at this point.

  • JJ

    First Wayne Brady and now James Lipton.

    "Must James Lipton be required to scrag a trollop?

  • Guest

    Takes a B*tch to run B*tches...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Am I the only one who wants to hear more about this badass post-war female sheriff of muthafuckin' Paris?!

  • zeke_the_pig

    Yeah, seriously, where the fuck is that movie?!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I am writing it as soon as I can find any information on this person. Look for it as a zombie musical in next year's NYC and Wilmington, DE Fringe Festivals. (seriously, I wanted to google her yesterday, but "sheriff of Paris" turned up nothing useful and I can't search "bordello" or anything related at the office.)

  • MichaelAndTheArgonauts

    What a fuckin badass. Crime must've been so much classier back then...

  • Maya

    He is also 86 years old. I'm pretty sure he has a painting of himself at around, say, age 65 stashed away in an attic somewhere. It's the only explanation.

  • Marc Greene

    Have you seen his wife now? He makes pimpin' look easy.

  • TSF

    Well, that was unexpected.

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