Lisa Kudrow
Kudrow in 2009
Lisa Valerie Kudrow

(1963-07-30) July 30, 1963 (age 60)
EducationVassar College (BA)
Years active1983–present
Known forFriends
Michel Stern
(m. 1995)

Lisa Valerie Kudrow (/ˈkdr/ KOO-droh; born July 30, 1963) is an American actress. She rose to international fame for her role as Phoebe Buffay in the American television sitcom Friends, which aired from 1994 to 2004. The series earned her Primetime Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, Satellite, American Comedy and TV Guide awards. Phoebe has since been named one of the greatest television characters of all time and is considered to be Kudrow's breakout role, spawning her successful film career.

Kudrow initially appeared in a 1989 episode of the hit sitcom Cheers playing a character named Emily. She also starred in several episodes of the show Mad About You (1993) as Ursula, before auditioning and earning the role of Phoebe on Friends; her character on Mad About You was initially written-into the Friends storyline as Phoebe’s twin. In the late 1990s, Kudrow starred in the cult comedy film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) and followed it with an acclaimed performance in the comedy/drama 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. She created, produced, wrote, and starred in the HBO mockumentary series The Comeback, which initially lasted for one season in 2005 but was revived for a critically acclaimed second and final season in 2014. She was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for both seasons.

In 2007, Kudrow received praise for her starring role in the film Kabluey and appeared in the critically panned 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/NBC reality program Who Do You Think You Are, which has been nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award five times. She currently is a voice actress on the animated series HouseBroken.

Kudrow has also had roles in Analyze This (1999) and its sequel Analyze That (2002), 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).

Early life

Lisa Valerie Kudrow[1] was born in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles on July 30, 1963,[2] the daughter of Nedra, a travel agent, and Lee Kudrow, a doctor who specialized in treating headaches.[2] She has an older sister, Helene, and two brothers, David and Derrick.[3] She was raised in a middle-class Jewish family and had a Bat Mitzvah.[4][5] She is of Belarusian, German, Hungarian, and Polish descent.[citation needed] Some of her Belarusian ancestors were from Ilya.[6] Almost all Jews in Ilya were murdered during the Holocaust, including Kudrow's paternal great-grandmother. Her paternal grandmother later left Belarus for Brooklyn, where her father grew up.[7]

Kudrow attended Portola Middle School in the Tarzana neighborhood of Los Angeles.[8] She graduated from Taft High School in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, which was attended at the same time by rappers Ice Cube and Eazy-E and actress Robin Wright. She received her BA in biology from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, intending to become an expert on headaches like her father.[9] While breaking into acting, she worked for her father for eight years and earned a research credit on his study on the comparative likelihood of left-handed individuals developing cluster headaches.[10]


1989–1994: Pre-Friends

At the urging of comedian Jon Lovitz, who was a childhood friend of her brother,[4] Kudrow began her comedic career as a member of The Groundlings, an improv and sketch comedy school in Los Angeles. She 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.[13] She was also the only regular female member of the Transformers Comedy Troupe.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] Prior to Friends, she appeared in at least two network-produced 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.[17]

Kudrow was cast as Roz Doyle in Frasier, but the role was re-cast with Peri Gilpin during the taping of the pilot episode. In 2000, Kudrow explained 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.

1994–2004: Friends and worldwide recognition

Kudrow, the oldest actor of the main cast, reprised the character of Ursula on the NBC sitcom Friends, in which she co-starred as massage therapist Phoebe Buffay, Ursula's twin sister.[18] Praised for her performance, 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).[19] Kudrow received critical acclaim for playing Phoebe. 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.[20] Phoebe has since been named one of the greatest television characters of all time. Phoebe is considered to be Kudrow's breakout role, credited with making her the show's second-most famous cast member, after Jennifer Aniston, and for spawning her successful film career. She played Phoebe until the show ended in 2004. The program was a massive hit and Kudrow, along with her co-stars, gained worldwide recognition. Her character, Phoebe, was especially popular. Entertainment Weekly voted Phoebe on Friends as Kudrow's best performance.[21]

During her tenure on Friends, Kudrow appeared in several comedy 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 and King of the Hill, and hosted Saturday Night Live.[22]

2004–present: Post-Friends

Following 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.[23] Her production company is 'Is or Isn't Entertainment'.[24] Kudrow serves as the executive producer for the U.S. version of the British 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.[25][26]

Kudrow co-created an improvised comedy webseries, 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.[23] In July 2011, a reformatted, half-hour version of the show premiered on Showtime,[27][28] before being cancelled in 2015 after four seasons.[29] Kudrow has guest starred on multiple television series such as Cougar Town, BoJack Horseman, Angie Tribeca, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Scandal.[30]

Kudrow has appeared in multiple comedic films such as Happy Endings, Hotel for Dogs, Easy A, Neighbors and its sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Long Shot, and Booksmart. She also appeared in the romantic drama film P.S. I Love You and co-starred in the thriller film The Girl on the Train.[31] In 2020, Kudrow played Hypatia of Alexandria in season 4 episode 12 of The Good Place "Patty", and starred as Maggie Naird in the Netflix comedy series, Space Force.[32] She reunited with her Friends cast mates for an HBO Max unscripted television special titled Friends: The Reunion in May 2021. She is currently, along with Mary McCormack, an executive producer of the syndicated game show, 25 Words or Less; sometimes, Kudrow herself is one of the two celebrity guests playing with a contestant on the show.[33]

Personal life

Kudrow married French advertising executive Michel Stern on May 27, 1995. The couple reside in Beverly Hills, California, and have a son named Julian who was born on May 7, 1998.[34][35] Kudrow's pregnancy was written into the fourth season of Friends, with her character having triplets as a surrogate mother for her half-brother and his wife.[36] In addition to her Beverly Hills home, Kudrow maintained a penthouse in Park City, Utah, which she sold in April 2017.[37] She revealed in 2019 that she had experienced body dysmorphic disorder while working on Friends.[38]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
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 Janice Templeton Voice
2018 Lovesick Fool – Love in the Age of Like Ozma Voice, Short film
2019 Long Shot Katherine
Booksmart Charmaine Antsler
2020 Like a Boss Shay Whitmore
2021 The Boss Baby: Family Business Janice Templeton Voice
2022 Better Nate Than Ever Heidi
TBA The Parenting


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 Flying Blind Amy Episode: "My Dinner with Brad Schimmel"
Bob Kathy Fleisher 3 episodes
1993–1999 Mad About You Ursula Buffay 24 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"
Duckman Female Beta Maxians Voice, 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 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! 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[39] Executive producer; Episode: "Lisa Kudrow"
2011 Allen Gregory Sheila Voice, episode: "Mom Sizemore"
2011–2015 Web Therapy Fiona Wallice 44 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
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, Lori-Ann Schmidt 3 episodes
2017 RuPaul's Drag Race Guest Episode: "She Done Already Done Brought It On"
2018 Grace and Frankie Sheree 3 episodes
Bright Futures Narrator Unsold television pilot
2018–present 25 Words or Less Herself Recurring guest, also executive producer
2019 Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas Television film, executive producer
2020 The Good Place Hypatia Episode: "Patty"
Space Force Maggie Naird Recurring role
Death to 2020 Jeanetta Grace Susan Television special
2020–2021 Feel Good Linda Main role
2021 Friends: The Reunion Herself HBO Max special; also executive producer[40]
History of the Sitcom Herself Television documentary
2021-present HouseBroken Honey Voice, main role
2022 Celebrity Iou Herself HGTV
Rick and Morty Tyrannosaurus Voice, episode: "JuRicksic Mort"
TBA Time Bandits Penelope Upcoming miniseries

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Lisa Kudrow

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, she won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, one Satellite Award, one American Comedy award and one TV Guide award.

In total, she has received fifteen Emmy nominations, with her most recent nomination in the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards, twelve nominations and two wins at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, one win and eight nominations at the American Comedy Awards, one Golden Globe nomination, one Banff Rockie award, one Blockbuster Entertainment award, one Chicago Film Critics Association nomination, one Chlotrudis award, two Critics' Choice Television nominations, one Dorian award, one Gracie award, one Independent Spirit nomination, one MTV Movie & TV nomination, one National Society of Film Critics nomination, one New York Film Critics Circle award, one Nickelodeon Kids' Choice nomination, one Online Film Critics Society nomination, one People Magazine award, five nominations and one win at the Satellite Awards, three nominations and one win at the Teen Choice Awards, two Streamy nominations, two nominations and one win at the TV Guide Awards, one Viewers for Quality Television nomination and seven nominations and four wins at the Webby Awards.


  1. ^ "Lisa Kudrow says her middle name". Archived from the original on October 29, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2013 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ a b "Lisa Kudrow Biography". (FYI/A&E Networks). April 2021. Retrieved August 28, 2021.
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  5. ^ Harris, Rob. (June 26, 2012) Oh, what a tangled 'Web' Lisa Kudrow weaves. The Times of Israel. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Zaltzman, Lior (August 18, 2022). "Jewish 'Friends' Star Lisa Kudrow Feels Connected to Her Family's Holocaust Trauma". Kveller. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Susman, Gary (October 23, 2002). "Here's what the cast of Friends were up to this week". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. 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.'
  9. ^ Justine Elias. "Lisa Kudrow: No Problem Playing Two Roles." Indiana (PA) Gazette, August 21, 1982, p. TV 7.
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  13. ^ "Unexpected Company: Entertaining audiences since 2003". Cranston Herald. November 18, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  14. ^ "From Stand-Up To Screen - 10 Comics Who Made The Biggest Leap". HuffPost UK. February 26, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  15. ^ 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.
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  17. ^ Close Encounters (TV Movie 1990) - IMDb, retrieved May 12, 2023
  18. ^ "Fast Chat: Lisa Kudrow". Newsday. January 18, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Lisa Kudrow Emmy Nominated. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  20. ^ Carter, Bill (February 12, 2002). "'Friends' Deal Will Pay Each Of Its 6 Stars $22 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
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  25. ^ 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.
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  31. ^ Kit, Borys (November 3, 2015). "Lisa Kudrow Joins 'The Girl on the Train' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 8, 2016. She has also starred recently on The Good Place as Hypatia of Alexandria.
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  35. ^ Bloom, Nate (August 21, 2012). "Interfaith Celebrities: Lisa Kudrow; Tavi Gevinson, Oracle of Girl World; Olympic Results and Raisman's Rabbi". InterfaithFamily. Archived from the original on March 31, 2017. 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
  36. ^ "20 TV Pregnancies So Impossible To Hide, They Were Just Written into The Show". BabyGaga. February 24, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
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