James Lipton, the celebrated host and executive producer of Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio," is a man of many tastes. He's primarily known as dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in New York City. But he's also an accomplished equestrian and pilot who has been known to enjoy travel and countless other activities.
And when he engages in most of these activities, he just so happens to have a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame by his side.
"I met Rod [Gilbert]… I don't even remember, it goes back so far. We spend a lot of time together, out in the Hamptons, here in New York, at the games," Lipton said of the Rangers legend. "We do a lot of things together. He's one of my best friends."
Gilbert is one of the iconic former Rangers to have befriended Lipton over the years. Through friendships with Ron Duguay and Mark Messier, Lipton has shared a unique link to Rangers history. For the 86-year-old who grew up playing hockey in Detroit, it's a dream to have been present for many of the team's most memorable moments.
"In 1994, when Messier hoisted the Cup, I was there. It was sublime. It is probably unmatched," Lipton said. "Mark Messier lifting that Cup was one of the greatest moments I've ever seen in my life. It was a performance, but it was absolutely authentic and genuine having nothing to do with acting. It was quite something to see."
As a Rangers fan for roughly five decades, Lipton's passion for the team hasn't abated. He is a fixture at Madison Square Garden and said he likes what he sees from this year's team as it heads into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals.
"I think [Ryan] Callahan is wonderful. [Henrik] Lundqvist is a major star. When he's on his game, he's unbelievable," Lipton said. "Follow them? I haunt them, I stalk them. Not the individuals, the team."
Lipton wouldn't make any bold Stanley Cup predictions, but he'd love nothing more than to see the trophy return to Madison Square Garden. In the meantime, he was able to make due Friday night when he had the most famous trophy in sports at his home.
"In my very own home, with 50 of my closest friends and colleagues, I hoist it myself," Lipton told NHL.com before serving as host of his very own Cup party.
And, yes, Rod Gilbert was invited.