From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rula Lenska (born Róża Maria Leopoldyna Łubieńska, 30 September 1947) is an English-Polish actress. She mainly appears in British stage and television productions, but is known in the United States for a series of commercials for Alberto VO5 hairspray in the late-1970s and early-1980s.
Lenska was born at St. Neots, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, England. Her family are members of the Polish nobility, and bearers of the Pomian coat of arms. They once owned a castle and estate in Kazimierza Wielka, Poland. Her father, Major Count Ludwik Łubieński, was personal secretary to Józef Beck, Minister for Foreign Affairs in Poland before the Nazi occupation of the country. Later, he became adjutant to General Władysław Sikorski, Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile and chief of the Polish military mission in Gibraltar during World War II. Łubieński later became head of the CIA-funded Polish Section of Radio Free Europe in Germany during the Cold War. Her mother was Countess Elżbieta Tyszkiewicz who escaped from Poland during the Nazi occupation, to Italy, but was captured with her own mother and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where they survived for two years. Lenska was educated at the Ursuline Convent School in Westgate-on-Sea, Kent.
Her big break was as Little Ladies' band member, "Q", in the British TV series Rock Follies (1976) and its sequel, Rock Follies of '77, the following year. By this time, she had renounced her title as a Polish countess.
Lenska appeared in advertisements for the hair product Alberto VO5, which were shown on US television. Though Lenska was a popular actress in the UK, she was virtually unknown in the United States. In a Tonight Show monologue broadcast after the commercials started running, Johnny Carson asked "Who the hell is Rula Lenska?" and began using Lenska's name as a running joke on his show. Around the same time, Jane Curtin played Lenska in a sketch on Saturday Night Live.