Solemn, ethnic-looking Zohra Lampert had a touching, understated quality to
her talent that should have gone further in the film business than it did.
Somehow she never got the bigger breaks necessary for top-flight stardom.
Still and all, this comely actress with soft, vulnerable features managed
to contribute a number of genuinely affecting performances, particularly on
TV. Born in New York City the daughter of Russian-born hardware store
owners, Zohra attended Manhattan's High School of Music and Art and later
graduated from the University of Chicago. After a stint with the Lincoln
Center Repertory Theatre, she made an impressive mark on Broadway with
Tony-nominated performances in "Look We've Come Through" in 1961 and
"Mother Courage and Her Children" in 1963. Films also came her way in the
early '60s and she scored well for her humble, deeply stirring performance
as Ernest Borgnine's Italian wife in the minor crime story Pay or Die
(1960), and stole a touching scene from 'Natalie Wood' and Warren Beatty as
Beatty's careworn spouse in Splendor in the Grass (1961). These two
performances alone should have lifted her to the heights of a star, but
strangely they didn't. She was deemed a chameleonlike actress who didn't
quite fit into the Hollywood structure as a personality type. Instead Zohra
moved into a few noticeable film supports along with an occasional
low-budget lead, her best being the cult chiller Let's Scare Jessica to
Death (1971). By the '70s, she was performing primarily on the small screen
in character roles and was earning Emmy-winning notice for her endeavors.
In later years she found some real quirky ladies to inhabit, but has since
been seen less and less.
Zohra Lampert