Lila Kedrova

Lila Kedrova (full name in Russian Елизавета (Лиля) Николаевна Кедрова) (9 October 1909– 16 February 2000) was a Russian-born French actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Zorba the Greek (1964), and the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for the same role in the musical version of the film.

Life and career

Yelizaveta Nikolayevna Kedrova was born in Petrograd, Russia. Cagey about her age, she gave 1918 as her year of birth but is now believed to have been born in 1909, if not earlier. Her parents were Russian opera singers. Her father, Nikolay Kedrov Sr. (1871–1940), was a singer and composer, a creator of the first Russian male quartet to perform liturgical chants. Her mother, Sofia Gladkaya (ru: Софья Николаевна Гладкая), was a singer at the Mariinsky Theatre and a teacher at the Conservatoire de Paris. Kedrova's brother Nikolay Kedrov Jr. (c. 1904–1981) was a Russian singer and composer of liturgical music. Her sister, Irene Kedroff (Irina Nikolayevna Kedrova) was a soprano.

Some time after the October Revolution, in 1922, the family emigrated to Berlin. In 1928, they moved to France, where Kedrova's mother taught at the Conservatoire de Paris, and her father again recreated the quartet "Quatuor Kedroff". In 1932, Kedrova joined the Moscow Art Theatre touring company. Then her film career began, mostly in French films, until her first English appearance in 1964 as Mme Hortense in Zorba the Greek. Her performance won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Kedrova then appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's 1966 film Torn Curtain, playing the role of Countess Kuchinska, a Polish noblewoman in East Berlin who is desperate to emigrate to the United States. Kedrova played Fraulein Schneider in the West End stage production of Cabaret in 1968 with Judi Dench and Peter Sallis.

She then played a series of eccentric and crazy women in Hollywood films. In 1983, she reprised her role as Mme Hortense on Broadway in the musical version of Zorba the Greek, winning both a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical and a Drama Desk Award in the process. In 1989 she played Madame Armfeldt in the London revival of A Little Night Music.

Her second husband was Canadian stage director Richard Howard (1932-2017).


In 2000, Kedrova died at her summer home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario of pneumonia, having suffered a long time with Alzheimer's disease. She was cremated. Her ashes are buried in her family grave in the Russian cemetery in Paris.