James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors Studio, died yesterday at the age of 93. The interviewer, writer, and actor was famous internationally for his show’s quirky and thoughtful interviews with actors, as well as for an iconic impression of him done by comedian Will Ferrell.
But one detail of his life of which many people weren’t aware is that Lipton grew up in Detroit. Born in 1926, Lipton’s mother was a teacher and librarian, and his father worked at the Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish-socialist newspaper with a Detroit edition.
Before enlisting in the Air Force during World War II and then moving permanently to New York City, he spent his formative years in the Motor City. Below are the Detroit sites with significant ties to Lipton.
Thanks to local historian Jamon Jordan for highlighting many of these sites in an informative post on Facebook.
According to the Detroit News, Lipton and his mother lived in this house at 280 Hague Street, built in 1906, in the North End (his father abandoned the family at an early age). The home, like many in neighborhood, has gotten renovated in recent years.
The Detroit Times
To help support the family, Lipton worked as a paperboy for the Detroit Times, a daily paper published until 1960.
Above is an image of the paper’s headquarters, an Art Deco building designed by Albert Kahn at a triangular parcel on Cass Avenue downtown. It was fully abandoned in 1975 and demolished a few years later.
Temple Beth El
Lipton’s parents were Jewish, and he attended services at Temple Beth El, the oldest Jewish congregation in Michigan. At the time, the congregation met for services at this building on Woodward Avenue just blocks away from his childhood home.
The Neoclassical building, which opened in 1922, was designed by Albert Kahn. Today, it’s known as Bethel Community Transformation Center and is owned by a Christian congregation.
Central High School
Lipton attended to Central High School at 2425 Tuxedo Street, about 2.5 miles from his home. The school moved to this Dexter-Linwood building, designed by renowned local architects Malcomson & Higginbotham, in 1926.
The high school is still open today and part of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.
In 1944, after graduating high school, Lipton first got famous through a role in the incredibly popular radio show “The Lone Ranger.” He played the titular character’s nephew, Dan Reid.
The show was recorded for WXYZ Radio at the Maccabees Building, yet another Art Deco structure designed by Albert Kahn, and broadcast through its tower. Today, it’s owned by Wayne State University, which Lipton attended for a year before enlisting in the Air Force.
Know any other locations that were significant to Lipton’s life? Let us know in the comment section.