Lisa Kudrow is best known for playing the lovable, quirky character Phoebe Buffay on the hit sitcom Friends, but the actress got her start as a member of the improv group, The Groundlings. She made people worldwide sing about “smelly cats,” but where is she now?
Lisa Valerie Kudrow was born in Los Angeles, CA, on July 30, 1963, to Lee, a doctor, and Nedra, a travel agent. The actress grew up with her older sister, Helene, and brothers, David and Derrick, and attended Portola Middle School in Los Angeles and graduated from Taft High School.
The actress later received her BA in Biology from Vassar College in New York and worked for her father while she tried to break into acting. Kudrow started in the Groundlings, a sketch and improv comedy school in Los Angeles, then joined Conan O’Brien in Unexpected Company, a short-lived comedy group.
Kudrow is of German, Hungarian, Belarusian, and Polish descent. While appearing in the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, the actress discovered her great-grandmother was murdered in the Holocaust.
One of Kudrow’s first recurring roles was on Bob, Bob Newhart’s sitcom. The actress played Kathy Fleisher in three episodes of the series, which centered around Newhart’s character, Bob McKay, the creator of the comic book superhero Mad-Dog. The series lasted for two seasons, with three unaired episodes later running on the TV Land network.
Mad About You
From 1993-1999, Kudrow played the inept waitress Ursula Buffay on the sitcom Mad About You, starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser. Kudrow’s character ultimately would become the twin sister of Phoebe Buffay, the actress’ character on Friends. The character of Ursula also appeared often on Friends throughout its ten-year run.
Kudrow’s most notable acting role was as the eccentric Phoebe Buffay on the hit sitcom Friends. Friends followed six twenty and thirty-somethings living in New York City and ran for ten years, with Kudrow appearing in all 236 episodes, ultimately earning the actress $1 million per episode.
Phoebe was an unconventional, off-the-wall character who worked as a masseuse and part-time musician who famously sang “Smelly Cat.”
Kudrow received six Primetime Emmy Awards for her role as Phoebe and won in 1998 for Best Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
What did she do after Friends?
Although she was never able to fully recreate the success of Friends. Lisa has had a thriving career after the show ended. She has consistently worked since Friends ended in 2004 and has made numerous appearances in movies and television shows.
Some notable roles include her stint as Valerie Cherish in the HBO series The Comeback, which initially aired in 2005 and again in 2014. The series had a comical look at the entertainment industry and showcased a faux reality show also called The Comeback.
The actress co-created, starred, wrote, and served as executive producer on the comedy series Web Therapy, which ran from 2011-2015.
From 2008 – 2014, the actress co-created, starred, wrote, and served as executive producer on the comedy series Web Therapy. The series revolved around Lisa Kudrow’s character, Fiona, giving 3 minute therapy sessions over the internet.
Kudrow would also have roles in the movies: P.S. I Love You, Easy A, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and The Girl on the Train.
What is Lisa Kudrow doing now?
Kudrow is still very active as an actress and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. She recently played Heidi in the 2022 film Better Nate Than Ever and appeared in the 2021 Friends reunion alongside the original cast.
Since 2018, the actress has served as executive producer on the television game show 25 Words or Less, hosted by Meredith Vieira. Occasionally, Kudrow will appear as a guest on the FOX game show.
In 2021, Kudrow voiced the character of Janice Templeton in the animated film The Boss Baby: Family Business. The film also starred Alec Baldwin, James Marsden, and Amy Sedaris and fared well at the box office, grossing $146.8 million against an $82 million budget.
The actress made headlines in September 2022 when reality star Spencer Pratt claimed Kudrow was “one of the worst humans I’ve come in contact with” and said she made Pratt and his wife, Heidi, uncomfortable.
Pratt detailed his interaction with Kudrow (referring to her as Phoebe Buffay), “she tells Heidi that she needs to get away from me as fast as possible, cuz I’m gonna murder Heidi and that I have the eyes of a serial killer."
One Reddit user joked that perhaps Pratt had met Kudrow’s character, Ursula Buffay, the awkward twin of Phoebe. Kudrow’s camp never responded to the claims, so it’s up to fans to speculate how true the encounter was.
Kudrow has been married to her husband, Michael Stern, since May 1995, and the couple has one son, Julian. The actress’s pregnancy was written into Friends when her character was the surrogate for her half-brother.
Her son often posts on Instagram, including a throwback photo of his famous mom on Mother’s Day.