Lisa Valerie Kudrow (born July 30, 1963) is an American actress, comedian, writer and producer. She gained worldwide recognition for her ten-season run as Phoebe Buffay on the television sitcom Friends, for which she received many accolades, including an Emmy Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
She went on to produce, write and star in the HBO series The Comeback, which was revived nine years later and began airing in November 2014. She also is currently starring in Web Therapy which is in its fourth season on Showtime. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class â" Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program for the show in 2012. She is also one of the executive producers of the TLC reality program Who Do You Think You Are. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Program for the series in 2012.
Away from television, Kudrow has also appeared in many films, including 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), and Neighbors (2014).
Throughout her career she has received nine Emmy Award nominations, twelve Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, and a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Lisa Kudrow was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Nedra S. (nÃ©e Stern), a travel agent, and Dr. Lee N. Kudrow (born 1933), a physician who specialized in the treatment of headaches. 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. Her ancestors emigrated from Belarus, Germany, and Hungary; some of them lived in the village of Ilya, in the Minsk area. One of her great-grandmothers was murdered in the Holocaust.
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. She graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. Kudrow received her Bachelor of Science 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.
At the urging of her brother's childhood friend, comedian Jon Lovitz, Kudrow began her comedic career as a member of The Groundlings. 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. She tried out for Saturday Night Live in 1990, but the show chose Julia Sweeney instead. She had a recurring role as Kathy Fleisher in three episodes of season one of the Bob Newhart sitcom Bob (CBS, 1992â"1993), a role she played after taking part in the memorable series finale of Newhart's previous series Newhart. 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.
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". 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.
For her starring role as Phoebe on Friends (NBC, 1994â"2004) Kudrow won the 1998 Emmy Award 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. Her film credits include comedic roles in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Hanging Up, Marci X, Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That. Kudrow has also starred in dramatic roles, including the biographical Wonderland about the late porn star John Holmes. She had dramatic roles for writer-director Don Roos in the films The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings. In 2008, she acted in Hotel for Dogs alongside Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin.
She has been a vocal performer on episodes of animated television series, including as Aphrodite on Hercules: The Animated Series, and as Springfield Elementary School student Alexandra Whitney on The Simpsons. She was the voice of the female grizzly bear Ava in the live action movie Dr. Dolittle 2. She also voiced the Ghost of Christmas Past in the American Dad Christmas Special: The Best Christmas Story Never Told. 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. Kudrow received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Comeback. She has also appeared, alongside her niece, in a television commercial for Nintendo's Personal Trainer: Cooking, as well as in the Nintendo DS commercial for Professor Layton and the Curious Village with Lynn Brown Kogen.
Kudrow served as the executive producer for the American version of the UK television series Who Do You Think You Are? for NBC, 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. On March 19, 2010, Kudrowâs search for her roots in eastern Europe was broadcast. 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. In July 2011, a reformatted, half-hour version of the show premiered on Showtime. Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox reunited on Cougar Town in 2009. Kudrow played an accomplished dermatologist whose services become addictive to Jules (Cox), despite the doctor's impatient temperament. Kudrow's episode was aired during November sweeps. Kudrow's character was also a love interest for Bobby, the divorced husband of Jules played by Brian Van Holt. As of October 3, 2013, Kudrow has also landed a recurring role as Congresswoman Josephine Marcus in the ABC drama Scandal.
On May 27, 1995, Kudrow married Michel Stern, a French advertising executive. They have one son, Julian Murray, who was born on May 7, 1998. 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.
Awards and nominations
- Lisa Kudrow at the Internet Movie Database
- Lisa Kudrow at AllMovie
- Lisa Kudrow at Emmys.com
- Lisa Kudrow on Twitter
- Lisa Kudrow interview video at the Archive of American Television