Lisa Valerie Kudrow[1] (/ˈkdr/; born July 30, 1963)[2] is an American actress, comedian, writer, and producer. She gained worldwide recognition for her ten-season run as Phoebe Buffay on the NBC television sitcom Friends, for which she received many accolades, including six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning once in 1998, and twelve Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, winning in 1996 and 2000.

She went on to produce, write and star in the 2005 HBO comedy series The Comeback, which was revived nine years later and aired a second season in 2014.[3] She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for both seasons, in 2006 and 2015, respectively. She also starred in Web Therapy, which aired for four seasons on Showtime. As a producer of the series, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class – Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program for the series in 2012.[4] She is also one of the executive producers of the TLC reality program Who Do You Think You Are and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program for the series in 2012, 2014 and 2017. Kudrow's other notable television appearances include guest-starring roles in the drama series Scandal, the animated series BoJack Horseman, and the comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Apart from television, Kudrow has also made several notable film appearances, including roles in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), The Opposite of Sex (1998), Analyze This (1999) and its sequel Analyze That (2002), Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Wonderland (2003), Happy Endings (2005), P.S. I Love You (2007), 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), and The Boss Baby (2017).

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.[5] She has an elder sister, Helene Marla (born 1955), and an elder brother, Santa Monica neurologist David B. Kudrow (born 1957), Kudrow was raised in a middle-class Jewish family and had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony.[6][7] Her ancestors emigrated from Belarus, Germany, Hungary and Poland,[8] and some of them lived in the village of Ilya, in the Minsk area. Kudrow's paternal grandparents were David Kudrow (born in Mogilev, Belarus) and Gertrude Farberman (born in Ilya, Belarus).[8] Her paternal great-grandmother, Mera Mordejovich, was murdered in Ilya during the Holocaust. Her paternal grandmother immigrated to Brooklyn, where her father grew up.[9][10]

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.[11] She graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles where then N.W.A. member Eazy-E 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.[12]


Kudrow visiting Vassar College in 2004

1989–1994: Early career

At the urging of her brother's childhood friend, comedian Jon Lovitz,[6] 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."[13][14] Briefly, Kudrow joined with Conan O'Brien and director Tim Hillman in the short-lived improv troupe Unexpected Company.[15] She was also the only regular female member of the Transformers Comedy Troupe.[16] She played a role in an episode of the NBC sitcom Cheers.[17] She tried out for Saturday Night Live in 1990, but the show chose Julia Sweeney instead.[18] 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 memorable series finale of Newhart's previous series Newhart.[19] 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.[5] She appeared in the music video for True to the Game by fellow Los Angeles native Ice Cube.

Kudrow was cast to play the role of Roz Doyle in Frasier, but the role was re-cast with Peri Gilpin during the filming 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".[6] 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.[20]

1994–2004: Breakthrough

For her starring role as Phoebe on Friends (NBC, 1994–2004) Kudrow won the 1998 Emmy Award[21] for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. 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.[22] 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 at the 1st Streamy Awards

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. The series was cancelled by HBO before being renewed for a second season nearly a decade after being originally cancelled. Kudrow received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Comeback.[23]

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 died in the Holocaust.[24][25]

Kudrow co-created an improvised comedy web series, Web Therapy on Lstudio.com. The improv series, which launched online in 2008, has earned several Webby nominations and one Outstanding Comedic Performance Webby for Kudrow, who plays therapist of unspecified credentials Fiona Wallice. She offers her patients three-minute sessions over iChat.[23] In July 2011, a reformatted, half-hour version of the show premiered on Showtime,[26][27] before being cancelled in 2015 after four seasons.[28] Kudrow has guest starred on multiple television series such as Cougar Town, BoJack Horseman, Angie Tribeca, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Scandal.[29]

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,[30] and co-starred in the thriller film The Girl on the Train.[31]

Personal life

On May 27, 1995, Kudrow married Michel Stern, a French advertising executive. They have one son, Julian Murray Stern, who was born on May 7, 1998.[32][33] Kudrow's pregnancy was written into Friends (seasons 4 and 5), with her character Phoebe having triplets as a surrogate mother for her brother Frank and his wife Alice because they were not able to have children. Her fluency in French was also written into Phoebe's character as she struggled to teach Joey.[34]


Kudrow at the film premiere of The Other Woman in 2009


Year Film Role Notes
1983 Overdrawn at the Memory Bank Extra
1989 L.A. on $5 a Day Charmer
1991 To the Moon, Alice Friend of Perky Girl Short film
1991 The Unborn Louisa
1992 Dance with Death Millie
1992 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
1997 Clockwatchers Paula
1997 Hacks Reading Woman
1998 The Opposite of Sex Lucia DeLury
1999 Analyze This Laura MacNamara Sobel
2000 Hanging Up Maddy Mozell
2000 Lucky Numbers Crystal
2001 All Over the Guy Marie
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Ava Voice
2002 Bark! Dr. Darla Portnoy
2002 Analyze That Laura Sobel
2003 Marci X Marci Field
2003 Wonderland Sharon Holmes
2005 Happy Endings Mamie
2007 Kabluey Leslie
2007 P.S. I Love You Denise
2009 Hotel for Dogs Lois Scudder
2009 Powder Blue Sally
2009 Paper Man Claire Dunn
2009 Bandslam Karen Burton
2009 The Other Woman Dr. Carolyn Soule
2010 Easy A Mrs. Griffith
2014 Neighbors Carol Gladstone
2016 El Americano: The Movie Lucille Voice
2016 Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Carol Gladstone
2016 The Girl on the Train Martha
2017 Table 19 Bina Kepp
2017 The Boss Baby Mrs. Templeton Voice role


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Married to the Mob Pilot
1989 Cheers Emily Episode: "Two Girls for Every Boyd"
1989 Just Temporary Nicole Television film
1990 Newhart Sada Episode: "The Last Newhart"
1990 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 Buffay 24 episodes
1993 Flying Blind Amy Episode: "My Dinner with Brad Schimmel"
1993 Bob Kathy Fleisher 3 episodes
1993–1994 Coach Lauren / Nurse Alice 2 episodes
1994–2004 Friends Phoebe Buffay Main role, 236 episodes
1995–2001 Ursula Buffay Recurring role, 8 episodes
1996 Hope & Gloria Phoebe Buffay Episode: "A New York Story"
1996 Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man Female Beta Maxians (voices) Episode: "The One with Lisa Kudrow in a Small Role"
1996 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"
2001 Blue's Clues Dr. Stork (voice) Episode: "The Baby's Here!"
2005 Father of the Pride Foo-Lin (voice) 2 episodes
2005, 2014 The Comeback Valerie Cherish 21 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2005 Hopeless Pictures Sandy (voice) 2 episodes
2006 American Dad! The Ghost of Christmas Past (voice) Episode: "The Best Christmas Story Never"
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[35] 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"
2013 Scandal Congresswoman Josephine Marcus 4 episodes
2015 BoJack Horseman Wanda Pierce (voice) 7 episodes
2016 Angie Tribeca Monica Vivarquar Episode: "Pilot"
2016 Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows Herself Television documentary
2016 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Fairy Godmother (voice) / Lori-Ann Schmidt 2 episodes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race Guest 1 episode
2018 Grace & Frankie Sheree 3 episodes

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 1996 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". YouTube. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  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. ^ "'The Comeback' Returns Sunday November 9 Exclusively on HBO". Archived from the original on October 31, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Web Therapy". Emmy Awards. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "FilmReference.com: Lisa Kudrow (1963–)". 
  6. ^ a b c Zaslow, Jeffrey. (October 8, 2000). "Balancing friends and family". USA Weekend. Retrieved June 8, 2008. 
  7. ^ Harris, Rob. (June 26, 2012) Oh, what a tangled ‘Web’ Lisa Kudrow weaves. The Times of Israel. Retrieved on July 25, 2012.
  8. ^ a b http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001435/bio
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Susman, Gary. (October 23, 2002) Gary Susman, "On the Job", ''Entertainment Weekly'', October 23, 2002. ("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.'"). Ew.com. Retrieved on July 25, 2012.
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Barnes, Mike (August 19, 2016). "Cynthia Szigeti, Groundlings Improv Teacher and 'Seinfeld' Actress, Dies at 66". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 6, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Lisa Kudrow interview: Part 2 of 4". Archive of American Television. December 22, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2016. 
  15. ^ Bio at PX Drive.com
  16. ^ Lisa Kudrow Biography Hollywood Auditions.com
  17. ^ Bolesroor (May 5, 2011). ""Cheers" Two Girls for Every Boyd (TV Episode 1989)". IMDb. 
  18. ^ Shales, Tom; James Andrew Miller (October 2003). Live From New York (First paperback ed.). Back Bay Books. pp. 273, 386. ISBN 0-316-73565-5. 
  19. ^ Kara Kovalchik, "The Early TV Appearances of Seven Big Stars", Mental Floss, July 15, 2009. Archived January 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Fast Chat: Lisa Kudrow". Newsday. January 18, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Lisa Kudrow Emmy Nominated. Emmys.com. Retrieved on July 25, 2012.
  22. ^ Carter, Bill (February 12, 2002). "'Friends' Deal Will Pay Each Of Its 6 Stars $22 Million". New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b "Lisa Kudrow- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Who do you think you are". NBC. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker And Susan Sarandon Star In NBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Premiering April 20" Archived February 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. January 28, 2009, NBC.com News
  26. ^ "'Web Therapy' Renewed: Lisa Kudrow's Showtime Series Get A Season 3". Huffingtonpost. November 16, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  27. ^ Hale, Mike (July 28, 2011). "Analyze This: A Webisode's Id Meets Its TV Ego". New York Post. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  28. ^ Amanda N'Duka (August 11, 2015). "Lisa Kudrow's 'Web Therapy' Cancelled By Showtime After 4 Seasons". Deadline.com. Retrieved July 11, 2017. 
  29. ^ Mickey O'Connor. "Lisa Kudrow Will Guest-Star on Cougar Town". TVGuide.com. 
  30. ^ "Neighbors 2 Cast Photos from the Atlanta Set". ComingSoon.net. September 18, 2015. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  31. ^ Kit, Borys (November 3, 2015). "Lisa Kudrow Joins 'The Girl on the Train' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  32. ^ Judith Michaelson (June 17, 1997), "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press.", Los Angeles Times 
  33. ^ Interfaith Family: "Interfaith Celebrities: Lisa Kudrow; Tavi Gevinson, Oracle of Girl World; Olympic Results and Raisman's Rabbi" By Nate Bloom. August 21, 2012 "I also learned that her husband, French advertising executive Michael Stern, who 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"
  34. ^ Favorite Videos (April 22, 2016), Friends - Joey speaks French, retrieved September 1, 2017 
  35. ^ Who Do You Think You Are – NBC Site. Nbc.com. Retrieved on July 25, 2012.

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Samuel L. Jackson
MTV Movie Awards host
Succeeded by
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