Zohra Lampert was born on May 13, 1937 in New York City of Russian Jewish immigrants. She attended New York's High School of Music and Art and then the University of Chicago. From 1955, she began performing on stage and in bit roles on television.
However, in 1960, she made her film debut playing a lead role in Pay or Die opposite, of all people, Ernest Borgnine! Zohra played Adelina Saulino, a baker's daughter who became the girlfriend and later wife of detective Joseph Petrosino played by Borgnine. Zohra would describe her experience as a "fiery baptism". Producer-director Richard Wilson commented the intensity which she brought to the part. "When we rehearsed, Zohra wouldn't. She'd play the scene for real every time." She told her director: "I can't pretend. I have to believe it." Wilson noted that this was the nature of her gift but "it drove some of the other actors, not to mention the crew, mad."
This need to believe would bring her success in a wide range of character roles which defied type-casting. In subsequent years, she would accumulate more than 70 credits in roles such as a country girl in Splendor in the Grass (1961), the title role as a recently recovered psychiatric patient in the cult horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) and a doctor in the TV series Doctors' Hospital (1975). In 1975 she won an Emmy as best supporting actress for her part of Marina Sheldon, who organised bank robberies in an episode of Kojak. She made two appearances on Hawaii Five-O, including one as a new-age spiritualist woman in the Season 9 episode Let Death Do Us Part.
Alongside her TV and film roles, Zohra continued performing on stage. She was twice nominated for the Tony award for two Broadway productions, in 1961 for Look: We've Come Through and in 1963 for Mother Courage and Her Children.
By the time she appeared on Airwolf, she was already a veteran of the film, TV and stage, having played a large number of character roles of various nationalities. Twenty-four years after appearing alongside Borgnine in Pay or Die as his wife, she might have found it strange to appear on Airwolf with him, but this time on the opposite side, as one of Hawke's deadly adversaries. Her character of Anastasia Zarcov might be seen as a return to her roots, as after all, she was born of Russian parents.
In Airwolf, Zohra Lampert made a one time appearance as Anastasia Zarcov, a Russian agent specialising in the use of mind and behavior control drugs. She helps a gang convince Hawke that he has been in coma for more than a year after a helicopter crash, and that an impostor they have brought in is actually Saint John Hawke. Zohra doesn't actually meet Borgnine in the plot. Dominic confronts the gang when they escape on board a C130 but Zarcov had, for some reason, stayed behind in the hospital where Hawke was kept.
The wolf connection
Besides appearing with Ernest Borgnine in Pay or Die, Zohra Lampert also appeared together with the following wolves:
- Larry Linville (And a Child Shall Lead), in a 1981 TV movie The Girl, the Gold Watch and Dynamite.
- Maggie Cooper (The Hunted), in a 1978 TV movie Lady of the House.
- Seth Sakai (Ground Zero), in a Hawaii 5-O Season 11 episode Small Potatoes.
- William Bryant (Tracks), in the same Hawaii 5-O Season 11 episode Small Potatoes.