The host of America's long-running Tv talk show Inside The Actors Studio has opened up about his experiences as a pimp in Paris, revealing he had to get the Ok to sell sex from France's toughest mobsters.

Actors Studio dean James Lipton, who has interviewed the biggest movie stars in the world, represented prostitutes in Paris as a way of earning cash while he lived in the city after World War Two.

He tells, "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 (organised crime)."

Lipton insists prostitution was quite a respectable profession with strict guidelines and health schemes in place.

He adds, "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 sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down."

At the height of his pimping, Lipton ran a whole bordello: "I represented them all... I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. That's how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."

And he reveals he was introduced to the oldest profession by a hooker pal, who suggested he take on a management role for her and her friends as a way of earning extra cash.

He recalls, "When I ran out of money, I said, 'I have to go home'. She said, 'No, you don't. I'll arrange for you'. So, she arranged for me to do it. I had to be Ok'd by the underworld; otherwise they would've found me floating in the (River) Seine."