Darlene Lieblich Tipton is just your typical senior citizen: she knits, bakes, is an active member of the Red Hat Society, flies gyrocopters, owns a pet waste removal company in St. Louis, Missouri, is a five-time Jeopardy Champion, a breast cancer victor, an author, a member of Mensa, five-time Co-Chairman of the Daytime Emmys, is an award-winning movie producer, sang on British radio for five years, ...OK, maybe she’s not so typical.
Darlene was born in San Andreas, CA and grew up at a state juvenile facility on a remote mountain top where her father was a supervisor. Her lonely and isolated existence at the camp was compounded by mental and physical abuse by both of her parents.
At the age of five, her parents committed her to a live-in psychiatric hospital because they believed she was severely retarded. A routine eye test proved that her inability to react to her surroundings and reluctance to form relationships was simply because she was legally blind without glasses.
What should have stunted her intellectual and emotional development was beaten back by the single place Darlene could find refuge, safety, and escape from her dismal life. That was the camp library.
Through books she was transported far away from her everyday living hell. With each book she read, she experienced the emotions and adventures of thousands of characters which allowed her to expand her intellectual horizons, introduced her to the wonders of art and culture, developed a positive personal morality and integrity, and molded her into the nurturing and loving person she is today.
When her father was transferred to England to study how the British handled their youthful offenders, his boss’s wife heard Darlene sing at a family function and took her to BBC radio, where her pre-pubescent but adult-sounding voice kept her working for nearly five years, doing commercials, variety shows, soap operas and various voice-overs. Two of the radio commercials she did for Yardley’s Eau de London cologne and Coty’s Imprevu cologne were played in the US in the 1960's.
Shortly after returning from a truly wonderful life in London to the isolation of the California mountain top, she spent a year in a wheelchair after her father shattered her kneecaps. In the 1960’s, nobody talked about child abuse. No teacher asked why a girl who loved school routinely missed so much of it.
The local doctor who repaired Darlene’s broken bones with metal pins, installed a metal plate into her skull, who treated the cigarette burns, and saw the damage to a child’s body, said nothing. He again said nothing when her baby brother died. The death certificate read "natural causes", though Darlene watched as her tiny brother was beaten to death for crying too much.
Throughout high school she continued to perform, acting with a high school theater troupe and singing in choirs and groups. She also excelled at academics, earning a place in “Who’s Who of American High School Students”, and was offered scholarships to many colleges and universities, including Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, Mount Holyoke and Stanford University. She ultimately had to make a choice between going to UCLA, or taking a role in the touring company of Up With People. She chose UCLA and never looked back.
During her four years at UCLA studying motion pictures and television, she also improved her knowledge of French and German, learned computer programming, joined the university fencing team and met her first husband, whom she married between her junior and senior years.
Following college, Darlene went to work for CBS Television, first as a typist on the night shift in the script department, then moving up to the Program Practices department and learning the ropes of television “censorship”.
Over these years Darlene worked on The Price Is Right, Match Game, The Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful, Wheel of Fortune, and literally hundreds of other programs.
Darlene was working on the game show Press Your Luck on the historic day when contestant Michael Larsen, who had recorded and stop-framed dozens of episodes, figured out how to beat the game, winning over $110,000. Darlene was featured in the documentary about this remarkable incident -- Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal.
While pregnant and working full-time, she earned an MBA at Pepperdine University.
In 1990 Darlene moved over to the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Company as manager of their Standards and Practices department. Her first major assignment was the original 90210, which she covered for every episode of the show’s ten year run. She also worked on shows as diverse as Malcolm In The Middle, Melrose Place, The X-Files, The Simpsons, handled children’s programming, edited theatrical films to broadcast criteria, and developed standards for the newly-emerging reality show genre, traveling around the world to supervise hundreds of reality productions. She also created the standards regarding responsibilities in commercial advertising and wrote a computer tracking system to manage the thousands of advertisements which hit her desk every year.
During these years Darlene was also an active member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was elected by her peers to two terms on the Board of Governors, co-founded TV Cares, the Academy’s AIDS service committee, and served for five years as co-chair (with Bob Boden) of the Daytime Emmy Awards, including several stints hosting the Daytime Technical Awards presentations.
Darlene’s life has had its share of tragedy. When her closeted bi-sexual husband tested HIV-positive, Darlene cared for him for the last eleven years of his life until he died of AIDS at the age of 47, leaving her a single mother.
Darlene and Ken Tipton met in 2001 when Darlene produced a movie based on Ken's family's true story. HEART of the BEHOLDER won 5 Best Feature Film awards and is available on NetFlix and Amazon. HOTB was also the movie debut of Chloe Grace Moretz.
Darlene and Ken were married in 2005 and have 6 children and 3 grand-children between them. In 2008 they opened Doody Calls, the #1 pet waste removal service in Ken’s home town of St. Louis, Missouri, which Ken manages remotely from their home in California.