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Friends: Sitcom Parents

By Edited Feb 13, 2014 1 2

Freinds sitcom stars

Friends is the sitcom that penetrated the consciousness of a generation. Even nearly ten years after the show came to an end, a pal who errs on the side of OCD is still referred to as being a "Monica", Chandler's incessant upward inflection at the end of sentences is still regularly mimicked, and there are still an abundance of us in our late 20s/early 30s who can sing Smelly Cat word for word.

But what was it about the characters in Friends that captured our imagination? Sure, some of it was down to the great central performances of Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Matt Le Blanc and Matthew Perry, but these characters would never have seemed so rounded without support. Yes, I'm talking about the support of a brilliant team of writers, but also the support of many guest stars who succeeded in giving the characters a history and life before Central Perk. The fact that we got to know the families of the Friends helped us relate to them. Let's take a look back at the parents of Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Ross, Joey and Chandler, as well as the actors who made them so memorable.

Ross and Monica's Parents

Elliot Gould Friends
Elliott Gould as Jack Geller

Jack Geller is Ross and Monica's father; the character appeared in 20 episodes between 1994 to 2003. We discover several tit-bits about Jack over the seasons; he is a secret smoker, he suffers from dandruff and wind, he drinks condensed milk right from the tin and despite the fact that they have been together many years, he and his wife Judy still enjoy an active and playful sex life.

Elliot Gould who plays Jack has enjoyed a diverse career having appeared in several movies including Ocean's Eleven.

Judy Geller
Christina Pickles as Judy Geller

Judy Geller is Ross and Monica's mother and is well-known for hero-worshipping Ross (played by David Schwimmer) and belittling Monica (played by Courtney Cox). On occasion she has even forgotten all about her daughter's existence!

Christina Pickles who plays Judy Geller in Friends comes from a classical theatre background and appeared in Baz Luhrmann's film Romeo and Juliet. She was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance in the episode "The One Where Nana Dies Twice".

The Seattle Times ranked Jack and Judy were ranked joint second in The Seattle Times' list of best Friends guest characters of all time.

Chandler's Parents

Morgan Fairchild
Morgan Fairchild as Nora Tyler Bing

Nora Tyler Bing is Chandler's mother. She's a top-selling erotic novelist whose big hits include Euphoria At Midnight, Mistress Bitch and Euphoria Unbound. Her first appearance is in the episode "The One with Mrs. Bing", in which she kisses Ross. She had one of the classic lines of all time in "The One when Monica and Chandler Get Married". When her drag-queen ex-husband turns up at the wedding he says 'Aren't you a little old for that dress?' to which Nora replies 'Haven't you got a little too much penis for that dress?' Along with her ex-husband, Nora Tyler Bing was named joint fifth best Friends guest character of all time.

Morgan Fairchild who plays Nora is most famous for her appearances in the soap opera Falcon Crest and the TV series North and South.

Kathleen Turner
Kathleen Turner as Charles Bing/Helena Handbasket

Charles Bing is Chandler's drag-queen father. Before his first appearance in the series the character is regularly referred to. We first meet Charles when Monica drags Chandler (played by Matthew Perry) to a burlesque show in Las Vegas, where he is performing a medley of camp songs (Including It's Raining Men) under the name Helena Handbasket.

Kathleen Turner, who appears as Charles Bing, is a greatly celebrated actress having appeared in films such as The Jewel of the Nile and Peggy Sue Got Married, as well as on stage in The Graduate.

Rachel's Parents

Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas as Sandra Green

Sandra Green is Rachel's mother. She divorces Rachel's father in Season 2, and makes several appearances from then on. In "The One with Two Parties" she is shepherded back and forth between Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston) and Monica's apartment and Joey and Chandler's apartment and is even kissed passionately by Joey (all to distract her from bumping into her ex-husband).

Marlo Thomas who plays Sandra Green in Friends made her name palying Ann Marie in ABC's That Girl.

For her debut appearance in the show (in an episode entitled "The One with the Lesbian Wedding"), Thomas earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Ron Leibman
Ron Leibman as Leonard Green.

Leonard Green is Rachel's father. He is a vascular surgeon and instantly dislikes Ross when Rachel starts dating him. When Ross and Rachel conceive a child, but are no longer in a relationship, he is outraged that they're not married. In season 10 he suffers a heart attack, but makes a recovery.

Ron Leibman plays Leonard Green. His earlier credits include Law and Order and Holding the Baby.

Phoebe's Parents

Bob Balaban
Bob Balaban as Frank Buffay, Sr.

Frank Buffay, Sr. is Phoebe's father, who makes a surprise appearance at her grandmother's funeral in search of his late wife, Lily. When he apologizes for abandoning Phoebe and her twin sister Ursula he sings Phoebe (played by Lisa Kudrow) a lullaby that has a strong similarity to Phoebe's theme song, Smelly Cat.

Bob Balaban plays Frank Buffay, Sr. and only appears in one episode of Friends. His film credits include Waiting For Guffman and Gosford Park.

Terri Garr
Teri Garr as Phoebe Abbott

Phoebe Abbott is Phoebe's birth mother and appeared in three episodes in Seasons 3 and 4. Phoebe finds her mother after hunting her down. In Season 4, when Phoebe confides in her about wanting to be a surrogate mother for Frank and Alice's child, her mother tries to talk her out of it by lending her a puppy to demonstrate how painful it is to part with a child.

Teri Garr plays Phoebe Abbot and has also appeared in the movies Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Tootsie.

Joey's Parents

Robert Costanzo and Brenda Vaccaro as Joseph Tribbiani, Sr., and Gloria Tribbiani

Joey's parent only ever appeared in one episode in Season 1; "The One with the Boobies". Joey (played by Matt Le Blanc) finds out that his father, Joey Sr. is having an affair with another woman, Ronni (played by Lee Garlington). Joey's mother has secretly known about the affair for a long time and chastises Joey for bringing the whole thing to light. She prefers the way her husband acts with her when he feels guilty.

Robert Costanzo plays Joseph Tribbiani Sr. He has appeared in several TV shows, including Will and Grace and Ally McBeal. Brenda Vaccaro plays Gloria Tribbiani. Her previous TV appearances include guest roles in Murder, She Wrote and Columbo.

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Comments

Jun 5, 2012 4:50am
askformore
Great article! Yes the parents of the friends are great, and most of them funny too. Thumbs up!
Jun 5, 2012 5:52am
jjhansen
Thanks askformore. I really loved Chandler's parents personally.
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