KUDROW, LISA (1963– ), U.S. actress. Born in Encino, Calif., Kudrow graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor of science degree in biology. She began her acting career after studying improvisational comedy beginning in 1987 with a theater company in Los Angeles called the Groundlings. She got small parts on several television series before being cast as an absent-minded, eccentrically silly waitress named Ursula Buffay in the series Mad About You. This led to a starring role in 1995 on the television series Friends as Phoebe Buffay, Ursula's ditzy twin and bitter rival who was also a waitress and folk singer. Kudrow's was one of several major characters, including one played by David *Schwimmer, in the most successful comedy series of that period. Kudrow, who won an Emmy award for best supporting actress in a comedy series in 1998, has had a number of serious film roles as well as comedic ones. Among her films are Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), The Opposite of Sex (1998), and Analyze This (1999). In addition, in 2005 she was co-creator, executive producer, and writer of The Comeback, in which she portrayed Valerie Cherish, a former television star trying to make a comeback.
[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]