Zohra Lampert

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Zohra Lampert
Lampert in 1953
Born (1937-05-13) May 13, 1937 (age 86)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Other namesZohra Alton
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Years active1953–2016
(m. 2010)

Zohra Lampert (born May 13, 1937)[1] is an American actress, who has had roles on stage, film and television. She performed under her then-married name of Zohra Alton early in her career.

Among her performances were as the title character in the 1971 cult horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death.[2] She also starred alongside Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in the 1961 film Splendor in the Grass.

Lampert achieved critical acclaim for her work on Broadway as well, earning two Tony Award nominations for her roles in Look: We've Come Through (1962) and Mother Courage and Her Children (1963). She won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in a 1975 episode of Kojak.

Early life and education[edit]

Lampert was born in Manhattan,[3][4] the only child[5] of Rose and Morris Lampert, both Russian-Jewish immigrants. In 1940 the family lived in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, and Morris Lampert worked in a hardware store.[6] She attended the High School of Music & Art and the University of Chicago,[3] graduating in 1952.[7][5] She later studied acting at HB Studio[8] with Uta Hagen; she also studied with Mira Rostova.[3]


Lampert joined other University of Chicago alumni, including Ed Asner and Anthony Holland, in the Playwrights Theatre Club, which was established in Chicago by the theatrical producer David Shepherd. She later said that until she was thrust on stage as Grisha in Berthold Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, in which she had initially joined the cast as assistant scenic designer,[9] she thought, "I might want to become something scholarly. A librarian, not an actor."[7] She subsequently appeared as The Actress in Rounddance, drawing praise from Sydney J. Harris of the Chicago Daily News as "unquestionably the find of the summer season. . . a gypsy-like girl with elfin grace and the dramatic constitution of Shirley Booth."[10]

She left the Playwrights Theater Club to study acting with Mira Rostova, Montgomery Clift's acting coach, even though her upbringing had taught her that acting "was an unserious thing to do."[11] After a stint as a member of the Second City troupe in Chicago, she appeared on Broadway as Zohra Alton in the 1956 Broadway production of Diary of a Scoundrel.

Lampert, who began performing under her birth name after her divorce from acting colleague Bill Alton, gave a Tony-nominated performance in 1961's Look: We've Come Through. In 1964 she became one of the 26 members of the newly established Lincoln Center Repertory Theater company.[12]

She scored with a pair of small, noteworthy performances in the films Pay or Die and Splendor in the Grass. In the 1960s/1970s, she was active in supporting roles in film and television, and won an Emmy for her performance as a gypsy in an episode of Kojak ("Queen of the Gypsies", 1975). She co-starred with Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes' Opening Night (1977).

She was a regular in the sitcom The Girl with Something Extra and the medical drama Doctors' Hospital. During the early 1970s, she originated the role of Ellie Jardin on the CBS soap Where the Heart Is until her character was killed off in 1972. In 1986, she appeared in an episode of Knight Rider (season 4, "Hills of Fire"). She worked less during the 1980s and 1990s. She appeared in The Exorcist III (playing actor George C. Scott's wife) and the offbeat 1999 film The Eden Myth.

Later years[edit]

After a ten-year absence from films, Lampert returned to acting in supporting roles in two films: The Hungry Ghosts (2009) and Zenith (2010).

Personal life[edit]

Lambert married radio personality Jonathan Schwartz in 2010.[13] She was previously married to Bill Alton, a founding member of Second City and fellow Playwrights Theater Club actor.[11]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1959 Odds Against Tomorrow Girl in Bar [14]
1960 Pay or Die Adelina Saulino [14]
1961 Posse from Hell Helen Caldwell [14]
1961 Splendor in the Grass Angelina [14]
1961 Hey, Let's Twist! Sharon [14]
1966 A Fine Madness Evelyn Tupperman [14]
1968 Bye Bye Braverman Etta Rieff [14]
1969 Some Kind of a Nut Bunny Erickson [14]
1971 Let's Scare Jessica to Death Jessica [14]
1977 Opening Night Dorothy Victor [14]
1984 Alphabet City Mama [14]
1984 Teachers Mrs. Pilikian [14]
1989 American Blue Note Louise [14]
1990 Stanley & Iris Elaine [14]
1990 The Exorcist III Mary Kinderman [14]
1992 Alan & Naomi Mrs. Liebman [14]
1992 Last Supper Short film [14]
1994 The Last Good Time Barbara [14]
1999 The Eden Myth Alma Speck [14]
2009 The Hungry Ghosts Ruth [15]
2010 Zenith Ms. Minor [14]
2014 Sexual Secrets Alma Speck


Year Title Role Notes
1954 A Time to Live Greta Powers TV series
1958 Decoy Anne / Norma Hart "High Swing", "Cry Revenge"
1960 Cradle Song Sister Maria Jesus TV film
1960 Route 66 Sue Ellis "Layout at Glen Canyon"
1961 The Defenders Florence Meech / Eve Gideon Tubberbye "The Prowler", "Gideon's Follies"
1962 Sam Benedict Sarah Friedman "Hear the Mellow Wedding Bells"
1963 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Marie Petit Season 1 Episode 18: "A Tangled Web"
1963 Dr. Kildare Rose Kemmer / Myra Krolik "The Thing Speaks for Itself", "A Place Among the Monuments"
1963 Naked City Clara Espuella "Barefoot on a Bed of Coals"
1964 The Reporter Molly Gresham "Super-Star"
1965 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Kay Lorrison "The Mad, Mad Tea Party Affair"
1965 Slattery's People Asst. District Atty. Arlene Mancuso "Question: Who Are You Taking to the Main Event, Eddie?"
1965 The Trials of O'Brien Penelope "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?"
1967 I Spy Zili "Blackout"
1969 Then Came Bronson Mary Draper "Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt"
1970 The F.B.I. Mary Cochella "Deadfall"
1970–71 Where the Heart Is Ellie Jardin TV series
1972 Love, American Style Nancy Ellis "Love and the Jinx"
1973 The Connection Hannah TV film
1973 The Bob Newhart Show Janine "Motel"
1973–74 The Girl with Something Extra Anne Recurring role
1975 Ladies of the Corridor Mildred Tynan TV film
1975 One of Our Own Dr. Norah Purcell TV film
1975 Kojak Marina Sheldon "Queen of the Gypsies"
1975–76 Doctors' Hospital Dr. Norah Purcell Main role
1976 Serpico Anne "Trumpet of Time"
1976 Hawaii Five-0 Anita Newhall "Let Death Do Us Part"
1977 Hunter Deedee "The K Group: Parts 1 & 2"
1977 Mixed Nuts Dr. Sarah Allgood TV short
1977 Switch Lita Verassiere "Fade Out"
1978 Quincy, M.E. Lynn Peters "Passing"
1978 Black Beauty Polly Barker TV miniseries
1978 Kojak Dr. Ellen Page "The Halls of Terror"
1978 Hawaii Five-0 Gloria Kozma "Small Potatoes"
1978 Lady of the House Julia de Paulo TV film
1979 The Suicide's Wife Sharon Logan TV film
1980 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything Wilma Farnham TV film
1980 Children of Divorce Mrs. Goldsmith TV film
1981 Secrets of Midland Heights Mme. Zeena "Letting Go"
1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite Wilma Farnham TV film
1982 Romance Theatre TV series
1984 American Playhouse Esther Mirkin "The Cafeteria"
1984 Airwolf Dr. Lisa Holgate "Echoes from the Past"
1985 Izzy and Moe Esther Einstein TV film
1986 The Equalizer Veronica Whitney "Torn"
1986 Knight Rider Tess Hubbard "Hills of Fire"
1986 Trapper John, M.D. "Fall of the Wild"


Year Nominated work Award Category Outcome Ref.
1962 Look: We've Come Through Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated [16]
1963 Mother Courage and Her Children Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated [16]
1974 Kojak Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Won [17]


  1. ^ Kaplan, Mike (1983). Variety International Show Business Reference, 1983. New York City, New York: Garland Pub. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-824-09089-0.
  2. ^ Greenspun, Roger (August 28, 1971). "Let s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) Screen: Hippie Vampire:' Let's Scare Jessica to Death' Arrives". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c Kling, Sylvan (June 24, 1960). "Zohra, The Home-Spun Type". The Jewish Exponent. p. 37. ProQuest 2799840280. She refuses to reveal her age—but she can't be much more than 22 or 23—and looks even younger. She is still single. Her parents came to this country from Bessarabia and settled in Manhattan. She was an only child, born when her parents were up in years. [...] After Leaving New York's High School of Music and Art, she decided to attend the University of Chicago. [...] Zohra returned to Manhattan to study under Uta Hagen and Mira Rostova.
  4. ^ "Zohra Lampert". AllMovie. Archived from the original on March 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Witbeck, Charles (August 31, 1975). "Medical Series Makes Way Back to Tube". The Fresno Bee. King Features Syndicate. p. 102. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  6. ^ Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
  7. ^ a b Coleman 1991, p. 16.
  8. ^ HB Studio Alumni
  9. ^ Coleman 1991, p. 57.
  10. ^ Coleman 1991, p. 58.
  11. ^ a b Coleman 1991, p. 76.
  12. ^ Esterow, Milton (January 24, 1964). "LINCOLN THEATER BEGINS REPERTORY; ' After the Fall' by Miller Opens in Temporary Home". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  13. ^ Wilson, Michael (July 30, 2011). "Spinning the American Songbook". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Zohra Lampert Filmography". AllMovie. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019.
  15. ^ Pyne, Daniel (October 4, 2010). "Michael Imperioli Feeds The Hungry Ghosts". MovieMaker. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Zohra Lampert Tony Awards". Broadway World. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019.
  17. ^ "Zohra Lampert". Emmys. Television Academy. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019.


  • Coleman, Janet (1991). The Compass : the improvisational theatre that revolutionized American comedy (University of Chicago Press ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226113450.

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