Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Valerie Kudrow[1] (/ˈkdr/; born July 30, 1963)[2] is an American actress, comedian, writer, singer, and producer. After making guest appearances in several television sitcoms, including Cheers, she came to prominence with her main role of Phoebe Buffay in Friends (1994-2004), receiving a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Kudrow initially portrayed Phoebe’s twin sister Ursula on the television sitcom Mad About You. Kudrow has received several accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series from six nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards from 12 nominations, and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Her character was widely popular while the series aired and was later recognized as one of the greatest female characters in American television.

Lisa Kudrow
Kudrow at the film premiere of The Other Woman in 2009
Lisa Valerie Kudrow

(1963-07-30) July 30, 1963
EducationWilliam Taft High School
Alma materVassar College
OccupationActress  writer  comedian  singer  producer
Years active1989–present
Known forMad About You (1992-1999)
Friends (1994–2004)
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
The Opposite of Sex (1998)
The Comeback (2005, 2014)
Web Therapy (2008–2014)
Web Therapy (2011–2015)
Spouse(s)Michael Stern (m. 1995)

Kudrow starred in the cult comedy film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) and followed it with an acclaimed performance in the romantic comedy The Opposite of Sex (1998), which won her the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress and a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female. In 2005, she went on to produce, write and star in the HBO comedy series The Comeback, which was revived nine years later for a second season. Kudrow received two Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nominations for both seasons.

In 2007, Kudrow received praise for her starring role in the film Kabluey and appeared in the box office hit film P.S. I Love You. She produced and starred in the Showtime program Web Therapy (2011–2015), which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. She is a producer on the TLC reality program Who Do You Think You Are, which has garnered her five Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Kudrow has also made several notable film appearances, including roles in Analyze This (1999), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Bandslam (2008), Hotel for Dogs (2009), Easy A (2010), Neighbors (2014) and its sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016), The Girl on the Train (2016), The Boss Baby (2017), Long Shot (2019) and Booksmart (2019). Her films have grossed over $2 billion worldwide.

Early life

Lisa Kudrow was born in Los Angeles, California, to Nedra S. (née Stern, born 1934), a travel agent, and Lee N. Kudrow (born 1933), a physician who specialized in the treatment of headaches.[3] She has an older sister, Helene Marla (born 1955), and an older brother, Santa Monica neurologist David B. Kudrow (born 1957). Kudrow was raised in a middle-class Jewish family and had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony.[4][5] Her ancestors emigrated from Belarus, Germany, Hungary and Poland, and some of them lived in the village of Ilya, in the Minsk area.[6] Kudrow's paternal grandparents were David Kudrow (born in Mogilev, Belarus) and Gertrude Farberman (born in Ilya, Belarus).[6] Her paternal great-grandmother, Mera Mordejovich, was murdered in Ilya during the Holocaust. Her paternal grandmother immigrated to Brooklyn, where her father grew up.[7][8]

Kudrow attended Portola Middle School in Tarzana, California. In 1979, at the age of 16, she underwent rhinoplasty to reduce the size of her nose.[9] She graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles where then N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Eazy-E and actress Robin Wright also attended. Kudrow received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Vassar College, intending to follow in her father's footsteps and research headaches. Kudrow worked on her father's staff for eight years while breaking into acting, earning a research credit on his study on the comparative likelihood of left-handed individuals developing cluster headaches.[10]


1989–1994: Early career

At the urging of her brother's childhood friend, comedian Jon Lovitz,[4] she began her comedic career as a member of The Groundlings, an improv and sketch comedy school in Los Angeles. Kudrow has credited Cynthia Szigeti, her improv teacher at The Groundlings, for changing her perspective on acting, calling her "the best thing that happened, on so many levels."[11][12] Briefly, Kudrow joined with Conan O'Brien and director Tim Hillman in the short-lived improv troupe Unexpected Company. She was also the only regular female member of the Transformers Comedy Troupe. She played a role in an episode of the NBC sitcom Cheers.[13] She tried out for Saturday Night Live in 1990, but the show chose Julia Sweeney instead.[14] She had a recurring role as Kathy Fleisher in three episodes of season one of the Bob Newhart sitcom Bob (CBS, 1992–1993), a role she played after taking part in the series finale of Newhart's previous series Newhart.[15] Prior to Friends, she appeared in at least two produced network pilots: NBC's Just Temporary (also known as Temporarily Yours) in 1989, playing Nicole; and CBS' Close Encounters (also known as Matchmaker) in 1990, playing a Valley girl.[3]

Kudrow was cast to play the role of Roz Doyle in Frasier, but the role was re-cast with Peri Gilpin during the taping of the pilot episode. Kudrow said in 2000 that when rehearsals started, "I knew it wasn't working. I could feel it all slipping away, and I was panicking, which only made things worse."[4] Her first recurring television role was Ursula Buffay, the eccentric waitress on the NBC sitcom Mad About You. Kudrow would reprise the character on the NBC sitcom Friends, in which Kudrow co-starred as massage therapist Phoebe Buffay, Ursula's twin sister.[16]

1994–2004: Breakthrough

Kudrow was the first Friends cast member to win an Emmy Award with her 1998 honor as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her starring role as Phoebe on Friends (NBC, 1994–2004).[17] According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2005), Kudrow and co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox became the highest paid TV actresses of all time, earning $1 million per episode for the ninth and tenth seasons of Friends.[18]

During her tenure on Friends Kudrow appeared in multiple comedic films such as Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Hanging Up, Marci X, Dr. Dolittle 2, Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That, and dramatic films, such as Wonderland and The Opposite of Sex. She also guest starred on numerous television series during Friends, including The Simpsons, Hope and Gloria, King of the Hill, and hosting Saturday Night Live.

2004–present: Post-Friends

Kudrow starred as protagonist Valerie Cherish on the single-season HBO series The Comeback (premiered June 5, 2005), about a has-been sitcom star trying for a comeback. She also served as co-creator, writer, and executive producer. Nine years after the original season, HBO revived the series in 2014 for an abbreviated second season. Kudrow received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Comeback.[19]

Kudrow serves as the executive producer for the American version of the UK television series Who Do You Think You Are?, in which celebrities trace their family trees. The subjects of the first series included Kudrow herself, in which it was discovered her great-grandmother was murdered in the Holocaust.[20][21]

Kudrow co-created an improvised comedy web series, Web Therapy on The improv series, which launched online in 2008, has earned several Webby nominations and one Outstanding Comedic Performance Webby for Kudrow, who plays therapist Fiona Wallice. She offers her patients three-minute sessions over iChat.[19] In July 2011, a reformatted, half-hour version of the show premiered on Showtime,[22][23] before being cancelled in 2015 after four seasons.[24] Kudrow has guest starred on multiple television series such as Cougar Town, BoJack Horseman, Angie Tribeca, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Scandal.[25]

Following Friends, Kudrow has also appeared in films such as Easy A, Hotel for Dogs, Happy Endings, and Neighbors. In 2016, she reprised her role as Carol Gladstone in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,[26] and co-starred in the thriller film The Girl on the Train.[27]

Personal life

On May 27, 1995, Kudrow married French advertising executive Michel Stern. They have a son, Julian Murray Stern, who was born on May 7, 1998.[28][29] Kudrow's pregnancy was written into the fourth season of Friends, with her character, Phoebe, having triplets as a surrogate mother for her younger half-brother Frank (Giovanni Ribisi) and his wife Alice (Debra Jo Rupp).[30] In 2019, during an interview with Marc Maron, Kudrow revealed that she experienced body dysmorphic disorder while working on the show.[31]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Extra
1986 America 3000 Warrior Women Leader Uncredited
1989 L.A. on $5 a Day Charmer
1991 To the Moon, Alice Friend of Perky Girl Short film
The Unborn Louisa
1992 Dance with Death Millie
In the Heat of Passion Esther
1994 In the Heat of Passion 2: Unfaithful Teller
1995 The Crazysitter Adrian Wexler-Jones
1996 Mother Linda
1997 Romy and Michele's High School Reunion Michele Weinberger
Clockwatchers Paula
Hacks Reading Woman
1998 The Opposite of Sex Lucia DeLury
1999 Analyze This Laura MacNamara Sobel
2000 Hanging Up Maddy Mozell
Lucky Numbers Crystal
2001 All Over the Guy Marie
Dr. Dolittle 2 Ava (voice)
2002 Bark! Dr. Darla Portnoy
Analyze That Laura Sobel
2003 Marci X Marci Field
Wonderland Sharon Holmes
2005 Happy Endings Mamie
2007 Kabluey Leslie
P.S. I Love You Denise
2009 Hotel for Dogs Lois Scudder
Powder Blue Sally
Paper Man Claire Dunn
Bandslam Karen Burton
The Other Woman Dr. Carolyn Soule
2010 Easy A Mrs. Griffith
2014 Neighbors Carol Gladstone
2016 El Americano: The Movie Lucille (voice)
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Carol Gladstone
The Girl on the Train Martha
2017 Table 19 Bina Kepp
The Boss Baby Mrs. Templeton (voice)
2018 Lovesick Fool – Love in the Age of Like Ozma (voice) Short film
2019 Long Shot Katherine
Booksmart Charmaine Antsler


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Married to the Mob Pilot
Cheers Emily Episode: "Two Girls for Every Boyd"
Just Temporary Nicole Television film
1990 Newhart Sada Episode: "The Last Newhart"
Life Goes On Stella Episode: "Becca and the Band"
1991 Murder in High Places Miss Stich Television film
1992 Room for Two Woman in Black Episode: "Not Quite... Room for Two"
1993–1999 Mad About You Ursula 24 episodes
1993 Flying Blind Amy Episode: "My Dinner with Brad Schimmel"
Bob Kathy Fleisher 3 episodes
1993–1994 Coach Lauren / Nurse Alice 2 episodes
1994–2004 Friends Phoebe Buffay Main role, 236 episodes
Ursula Buffay Recurring role, 8 episodes
1996 Hope & Gloria Phoebe Buffay Episode: "A New York Story"
Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man Female Beta Maxians (voices) Episode: "The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role"
Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Lisa Kudrow/Sheryl Crow"
1997 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Lisa (voice) Episode: "Reunion"
1998 The Simpsons Alex Whitney (voice) Episode: "Lard of the Dance"
1998–1999 Hercules: The Animated Series Aphrodite (voice) 4 episodes
2001 King of the Hill Marjorie Pittman (voice) Episode: "The Exterminator"
Blue's Clues Dr. Stork (voice) Episode: "The Baby's Here!"
2005 Father of the Pride Foo-Lin (voice) 2 episodes
Hopeless Pictures Sandy (voice) 2 episodes
2005, 2014 The Comeback Valerie Cherish 21 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2006 American Dad! The Ghost of Christmas Past (voice) Episode: "The Best Christmas Story Never Told"
2008–2014 Web Therapy Fiona Wallice 132 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2010 Cougar Town Dr. Amy Evans Episode: "Rhino Skin"
2010–present Who Do You Think You Are? Herself[32] Executive producer; Episode: "Lisa Kudrow"
2011–2015 Web Therapy Fiona Wallice 44 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2011 Allen Gregory Sheila (voice) Episode: "Mom Sizemore"
2013 Wendell and Vinnie Natasha Episode: "Swindel & Vinnie"
Scandal Congresswoman Josephine Marcus 4 episodes
2015 BoJack Horseman Wanda Pierce (voice) 7 episodes
2016 Angie Tribeca Monica Vivarquar Episode: "Pilot"
Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows Herself Television documentary
2016–2019 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Fairy Godmother (voice) / Lori-Ann Schmidt 3 episodes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race Guest 1 episode
2018 Grace and Frankie Sheree 3 episodes
Bright Futures Narrator Unsold television pilot

Awards and nominations

Kudrow has been honored with numerous accolades over her career. For her role in the sitcom Friends, she received six nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards, winning in 1998 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Kudrow has also received twelve nominations and two wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as one win and eight nominations at the American Comedy Awards.


  1. "Lisa Kudrow says her middle name". Retrieved August 8, 2013 via YouTube.
  2. Family Tree Legends According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Archived October 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Lisa Kudrow (1963–)".
  4. Zaslow, Jeffrey (October 8, 2000). "Balancing friends and family". USA Weekend. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  5. Harris, Rob. (June 26, 2012) Oh, what a tangled ‘Web’ Lisa Kudrow weaves. The Times of Israel. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  6. /nm0001435/bio
  7. McCorquodale, Sara (March 20, 2010). "Lisa Kudrow's tears as she uncovers tragic family connection to the Holocaust". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  8. Grobel, Lawrence (November–December 2013). "Lisa Kudrow: The versatile comedian (and former science nerd) reflects on high school bullies, motherhood, and life after Friends". The Saturday Evening Post. Indiana. Archived from the original on November 7, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  9. Susman, Gary (October 23, 2002). "Here's what the cast of Friends were up to this week". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 25, 2019. In the November issue of Allure magazine, Kudrow reveals a secret she's kept for 23 years: When she was 16, she had a nose job. 'I had a hook nose, and now it's certainly smaller,' she says. 'But I'm not even sure I love how that turned out. I think plastic surgery looks weird – like plastic surgery.'
  10. Messinger, HB; MI Messinger; L Kudrow; LV Kudrow (1994). "Handedness and headache". Cephalalgia. 14 (1): 64–67. doi:10.1046/j.1468-2982.1994.1401064.x. PMID 8200028.
  11. Barnes, Mike (August 19, 2016). "Cynthia Szigeti, Groundlings Improv Teacher and 'Seinfeld' Actress, Dies at 66". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  12. "Lisa Kudrow interview: Part 2 of 4". Archive of American Television. December 22, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  13. Bolesroor (May 5, 2011). ""Cheers" Two Girls for Every Boyd (TV Episode 1989)". IMDb.
  14. Shales, Tom; James Andrew Miller (November 16, 2008). Live From New York (First eBook ed.). New York: Little, Brown. pp. 273, 386. ISBN 978-0316045827.
  15. Kovalchik, Kara (July 15, 2009). "The Early TV Appearances of Seven Big Stars". Mental Floss. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012.
  16. "Fast Chat: Lisa Kudrow". Newsday. January 18, 2009.
  17. Lisa Kudrow Emmy Nominated. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  18. Carter, Bill (February 12, 2002). "'Friends' Deal Will Pay Each Of Its 6 Stars $22 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  19. "Lisa Kudrow- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  20. Hunt, Stacey Wilson (August 24, 2012). "Emmys 2012: Lisa Kudrow's Own Holocaust Surprise On 'Who Do You Think You Are?' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  21. "Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker And Susan Sarandon Star In NBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Premiering April 20" (Press release). NBC. January 28, 2009. Archived from the original on February 19, 2010.
  22. "'Web Therapy' Renewed: Lisa Kudrow's Showtime Series Get A Season 3". HuffPost. November 16, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  23. Hale, Mike (July 28, 2011). "Analyze This: A Webisode's Id Meets Its TV Ego". New York Post. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  24. Amanda N'Duka (August 11, 2015). "Lisa Kudrow's 'Web Therapy' Cancelled By Showtime After 4 Seasons". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  25. O'Connor, Mickey (October 27, 2009). "Lisa Kudrow Will Guest-Star on Cougar Town". TV Guide.
  26. "Neighbors 2 Cast Photos from the Atlanta Set". September 18, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  27. Kit, Borys (November 3, 2015). "Lisa Kudrow Joins 'The Girl on the Train' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  28. Michaelson, Judith (June 17, 1997). "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Los Angeles Times.
  29. Bloom, Nate (August 21, 2012). "Interfaith Celebrities: Lisa Kudrow; Tavi Gevinson, Oracle of Girl World; Olympic Results and Raisman's Rabbi". Interfaith Family. I also learned that her husband, French advertising executive Michael Stern, whom she married in 1995, is not Jewish, as many assume. Stern and Kudrow have one child, a boy named Julian Murray, who is now 14.
  30. "20 TV Pregnancies So Impossible To Hide, They Were Just Written into The Show". BabyGaga. February 24, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  32. "About the Show". Who Do You Think You Are. NBC. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
Preceded by
Samuel L. Jackson
MTV Movie Awards host
Succeeded by
Sarah Jessica Parker
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