“It was the best experience, an unusually good one in TV. We all got along. The producers were great. It was wonderful being involved. I was extraordinarily lucky.” Lisa Kudrow on “Friends”
Hollywood actress Lisa Kudrow has been recognized for many years as Phoebe Buffay, her role in the widely known sitcom “Friends” (1994-2004). Convincingly playing the loopy character, she was garnered an Emmy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, an American Comedy Award, as well as a Golden Satellite Award. Additionally, she earned 5 Emmy, a Golden Globe and 9 Screen Actors Guild nominations for the same role. Kudrow continued to prove her acting skills by netting a New York Film Critics Circle Award for her magnificent turn as Lucia DeLury in The Opposite of Sex (1998) and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award after playing Laura MacNamara Sobel in Analyze This (1999). Thanks to her constantly advancing performances, she was handed a Teen Choice Award and a TV Guide Award.
Outside the limelight, the “31st Powerful Celebrity” according to 2003 Forbes Top 100 Celebrity List, Kudrow had donated time to help children enhance their skills in arts. She also became one of the celebrities who put their own artistic spin on the classic Lacoste polo shirt in a 2005 bid to raise funds for the fight against pediatric AIDS.
As for her private life, the advanced pool player was romantically involved with Conan O’Brien in the late 1980s. She is now married to Michel Stern. They have one son named Julian Murray.
Childhood and Family:
Lisa Marie Diane Kudrow, later famous as Lisa Kudrow, was born on July 30, 1963, in Encino, California. A daughter of Lee Kudrow (physician; headache specialist) and Nedra Kudrow (travel agent), she was raised in the San Fernando Valley with her sister, artist Helene Sherman, and brothers David Kudrow (neurologist) and Derrick Kudrow.
Graduating from William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, California, in 1981, Lisa studied Biology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and finished her education with a B.S. in 1985. Her initial intention to build a career in research was abandoned after one of her brother’s friends, actor/comedian Jon Lovitz, recommended she should be an actor instead. Later, 5’ 9 inch tall Lisa studied acting with Cynthia Szigeti, a well-known improvisation teacher, in Los Angeles.
Lisa first met her husband, French advertising executive Michel Stern (born in 1963), while he was dating Kudrow’s roommate. After meeting again years later, they formed a romantic relationship and finally married on May 27, 1995. Lisa and Michel have a son named Julian Murray (born on May 6, 1998) and currently reside in Los Angeles.
After studying with Cynthia Szigeti in 1989, Lisa Kudrow was accepted as a member of the famed Los Angeles improvisation comedy troupe The Groundlings. Soon after, she made a LA stage debut in the comedy play “Ladies Room” (1989) before having her big screen debut as the Charmer in the little seen LA on $5 a Day (1989). Kudrow first appeared on the small screen as Emily in an episode of popular sitcom “Cheers” (1989), which was followed by a turn as the friend of perky girl in the short TV drama To the Moon, Alice (1990). She also landed the small part of Millie in Dance with Death (1991) and took an unaccredited part in the thriller In the Heat of Passion (1992), before receiving the recurring role of ditzy waitress Ursula Buffay in the popular sitcom “Mad About You” (1993-1999).
Kudrow’s small screen breakthrough arrived in 1994 when she acquired her first regular role in the international sitcom “Friends” (1994-2004). In the romantic comedy series created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, she played Phoebe Buffay, the twin sister of her previous character Ursula Buffay. Delivering a witty portrayal, she later took home numerous awards, which included a 1995 Screen Actors Guild for Ensemble in a Television Comedy Series (shared with other cast members), a 1998 Emmy and a 2000 American Comedy for Best Supporting Actress, as well as a 2000 Screen Actors Guild and a 2001 Golden Satellite for Best Actress. In addition, she also earned 5 Emmy, a Golden Globe and 9 Screen Actors Guild nominations. The Golden Globe-winning TV show also featured Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.
Amid her work in the renowned series, Kudrow undertook the supporting part of Adrian Wexler-Jones in the big screen comedy The Crazysitter (1995) before receiving her first substantial film role of Linda, a blind date of Albert Brooks’ character, in the drama comedy Mother (1996). Impressed by Kudrow’s acting, director David Mirkin cast her in the leading role of Michele Weinberger, alongside Mira Sorvino, in the comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997), which was based on her play “Ladies Room.” For her fine performance in the movie, she received a MTV Movie nomination for Best Dance Sequence (shared with Mira Sorvino and Alan Cumming). Gaining even further recognition, she won a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actress after playing the repressed schoolteacher Lucia DeLury in The Opposite of Sex (1998). Kudrow still held victory in her hands when she nabbed a Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Supporting Actress in Comedy for her impressing performance as Laura MacNamara Sobel, the bride-to-be of Billy Crystal’s character, in Analyze This (1999). In 2000, the actress was handed a Teen Choice for Film - Choice Hissy Fit and a TV Guide for Editor’s Choice, thanks to her amusing performances on the screen.
Kudrow also costarred opposite John Travolta in the crime comedy Lucky Numbers (2000). After her stint in All Over the Guy (2001), she reprised her role of Laura Sobel in the sequel Analyze That (2002). Detouring to the drama thriller genre, she starred as Sharon Holmes, alongside Val Kilmer and Kate Bosworth, in the James Cox-directed Wonderland (2003). The comedienne then tried her hand as an executive producer in the TV films Picking Up and Dropping Off (2003) and an untitled Aisha Tyler project (2004).
Soon after her victorious moment in “Friends” ended, Kudrow provided her voice for guest characters Foo-Lin in the animated series “Father of the Pride” (2005) and Sandy in the animated comedy “Hopeless Picture” (2005). The same year, she also had the leading turn as Miriam ‘Mamie’ Toll in the wide screen drama comedy Happy Endings. Still in 2005, Kudrow starred as Valerie Cherish, a former B-list sitcom star trying to resuscitate her career, in the sitcom “The Comeback.” In the series, she also served as an executive producer as well as a screenwriter for two of its episodes.
In a more recent performance, Lisa was a guest in a 2006 episode of “The Paul O’Grady Show.” Reportedly, Kudrow and other cast members of “Friends” were considered for a reunion show, but one male cast member refused a multi-million dollar salary to make a comeback appearance.
- Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical, “Friends,” 2001
- American Comedy: Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series, “Friends,” 2000
- Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Supporting Actress - Comedy, Analyze This, 2000
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, “Friends,” 2000
- Teen Choice: Film - Choice Hissy Fit, 2000
- TV Guide: Editor’s Choice, 2000
- Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “Friends,” 1998
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, The Opposite Of Sex, 1998
- Screen Actors Guild: Ensemble in a Television Comedy Series, “Friends,” shared with cast members, 1995