It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely pop culture hero than James Lipton. After a career behind the scenes, Lipton became a teevee star with Inside The Actors Studio. He died earlier this week at the age of 93.
I always found Lipton weird and intriguing. His hair and beard looked spray painted on but he knew more about acting than anyone this side of Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, or Lee Strasberg. Lipton eschewed gotcha interview tactics and celebrity gossip to discuss the craft of acting.
James Lipton was famous for asking the Pivot Questions. As a tribute to him, here are my answers:
1. What is your favorite word? Eponymous.
2. What is your least favorite word? Utilize.
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Music.
4. What turns you off? Bigotry of all kinds.
5. What is your favorite curse word? Malaka.
6. What sound or noise do you love? A good three-part harmony.
7. What sound or noise do you hate? Bagpipes, tubas, and jackhammers.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? An old school movie director. I see myself wearing an eye patch and jodhpurs while yelling at the grips.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Skyscraper window washer.The older I get, the more afraid of heights I become.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “How the hell did you get in here?”
The last word goes to Mr. Lipton himself: