Wait, James Lipton Was a Pimp Once Upon a Time?!

'Inside the Actor's Studio' celebrates its 250th episode tonight -- and James Lipton has just revealed his surprising past as a pimp in Paris. For reals!

James Lipton

Can you guys believe that Inside the Actor’s Studio has been running for almost 20 years? True, occasionally while watching it, all I can think about is Will Ferrell’s SNL spoofs of the show; (specifically, the one with Tobey Maguire as Dustin Diamond, AKA Screech from Saved By the Bell) but 20 years is quite an accomplishment.

Tonight, Inside the Actor’s Studio celebrates its 250th episode with a special two-hour retrospective on Bravo. To gear up for this night of nights, Parade sat down for a chat with host James Lipton about his favorite interview, his surprising past as a pimp in Paris, and more. You can read the full interview here, but for your Hump Day reading pleasure, here are a few of our favorite sound bytes:

On who he really wished had been on the show (but who turned it down):

“Marlon Brando. He was reclusive in the last years of his life. He said, ‘I’m never going to do your show. The [Actors] Studio’s always taking credit for me. I was trained by Stella Adler.‘ I said, ‘So was I. Come on. We’ll talk about Stella.’ I’ve had a pretty good roster of guests without Marlon.”

On his best interview:

“What I’ve waited for is that one of my graduated students has achieved so much that he walks out and sits down on that chair next to me. It happened when Bradley Cooper walked out on that stage. We looked at each other and burst into tears. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.”

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On what it takes to make the cut for an appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio:

“Does this person have anything to teach my students? Period.

On his somewhat surprising past:

Fun act: James Lipton was a pimp in Paris in the 1950s. He says about the experience, “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.” He continues, “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 sherrif of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.” When James ran out of money while living in Paris, one of his friends, a prostitute, got him okayed by the underworld and into the business he went. He apparently represented a whole bordello of women, “did a roaring business,” and was able to live off of it for one year. “It was a great year of my life,” he recalls. Who knew?

Head here for more—and be sure to catch Inside the Actor’s Studio landmark 250th episode on Bravo tonight at 7pm EST!

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.

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