Lipton is known for his endlessly fawning interviews with celebs on Inside the Actors Studio.
The son of beat poet Lawrence Lipton, Detroit-born James moved to Paris in the aftermath of World War II and worked as a pimp. After decamping to New York, Lipton landed a gig writing and acting on the soap opera Guiding Light in 1952. For the next three decades, he wrote lyrics for Broadway musicals and scripts for soap operas and various TV specials, including more than a dozen Bob Hope Birthday extravaganzas. In 1994, Lipton took over the Actors Studio-the school founded by the legendary Lee Strasberg-and in conjunction with the New School took his act to the airwaves with a show on Bravo. In 2005, Lipton and New School president Bob Kerrey parted ways, and Lipton took the program to Pace University.
Lipton's insanely sycophantic interviews with celebs have made him a pop culture icon and earned him a long-running parody on SNL by Will Ferrell, as well as more sporadic mockeries elsewhere. The spotlight-loving Lipton, for his part, has never shied away from the unflattering attention-he's embraced it, making a handful of self-mocking appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. But recent years have seen the spoofs ebb, a trend that mirrors the declining relevance of his show, with interviews getting even more kiss-assy to even less deserving actors. [Image via Getty]