The American actress and producer Judith Light is most known for her work on the soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ She made her professional theatrical debut at the age of 21, despite having had an early interest in performing. After making her stage debut in 1970, she quickly transitioned to television and appeared in the serial opera “One Life to Live” for six years, followed by several notable guest appearances on prime time series. She rose to fame with her role in the popular television series “Who’s the Boss?” The experienced actress has received Tony Awards for her performances in “Other Desert Cities” and “The Assembled Parties,” as well as two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Critics applauded her portrayals of a repentant prostitute in ‘One Life to Live’ and a strong advertising executive and divorced mother in ‘Who’s the Boss?’ She has appeared in more than 40 television programs, 11 films, and 10 plays. In addition to performing, she enjoys volunteering with groups such as the National Council on Aging and the Flu + You. She takes the effort to educate others, particularly seniors, on the prevention of influenza and to raise knowledge of the available vaccines. She is also an advocate for homosexual rights.
Youth and Early Life
Judith Light was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on February 9, 1949, to model Pearl Sue and accountant Sidney Light.
She graduated from St. Mary’s Hall–Doane Academy in Burlington, New Jersey, in 1966. She then graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in theater.
Judith Light’s Career
In 1970, Judith Light began her acting career on stage with the California Shakespeare Festival production of “Richard III.” Five years later, she had her Broadway debut in ‘A Doll’s House,’ followed in 1976 by her part in ‘Herzl.’
Despite a spectacular start to her career, she was absolute without performing roles for some years in the 1970s. On the verge of bankruptcy, she toyed with the idea of abandoning her dream profession of acting.
She was invited to audition for a position in the ABC soap series ‘One Life to Live’ in 1977, which was a fortunate year for her. Judith was uncertain about accepting the invitation since she never wanted to be typecast in soap operas or sitcoms. Eventually, the appealing compensation package related to the offer convinced her to accept it.
According to her, playing Karen Wolek on ‘One Life to Live’ was one of her most-remembered parts and shows, and it established her as a household name for the following six years. This job helped her land guest roles on a number of popular television series, including ‘St. Elsewhere’ and ‘Family Ties’
In 1984, she won another significant role in ‘Who’s the Boss?’ a series that ran for eight seasons. She portrays Angela Bower, a rigid advertising executive, and divorced mother, on the hit sitcom. The role allowed her the opportunity to perform some comedy, and both the audience and the critics loved the sexual tension between Angela and Tony.
During this period, she also appeared in several television films, including ‘Stamp of a Killer’ in 1987, ‘The Ryan White Story’ in 1989, and ‘Wife, Mother, Murderer’ in 1991.
After ‘Who’s the Boss?’ concluded in 1992, she starred in other television movies and series. She released “Phenom” in 1993, “Men Don’t Tell” in 1997, and “The Simple Life” in 1998 during this period.
She returned to the stage in 1999, in the off-Broadway production of “Wit,” after realizing how much she missed it. In 2002, she played a harsh and opinionated judge on the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
As she had loved portraying a comedic character in ‘Who’s the Boss? ‘, she portrayed Claire Meade, the alcoholic wife of a publishing mogul, in ‘Ugly Betty’. She remained on the show until 2010’s last episode.
During the 2000s, she appeared in several notable films, including the 2005 romantic comedy ‘Ira & Abby’ and 2007’s ‘Save Me,’ in which she portrayed a radical Christian lady who founded the Genesis House Christian ministry.
From 2010-2011, she portrayed the alcoholic Marie Lombardi in the drama “Lombardi.” She produced two unsuccessful television pilots in 2011. The first was ‘Other People’s Kids’ on ABC, and the second was ‘Eden’ on USA Network.
In the 2013 television series ‘Dallas,’ she portrayed an unpleasant and sharp-tongued mother. In the play The Assembled Parties, she also returned to Broadway.
She assumed a demanding role on the Amazon series ‘Transparent’ in 2014, which earned her critical acclaim and her first Golden Globe nomination. Shelly Pfefferman, the ex-wife of a transsexual character portrayed by Tambor, was portrayed by Light. She appeared in the films ‘Last Weekend’ and ‘We’ll Never Have Paris’ around the same time.
In 2015, she portrayed Madame Raquin, an overprotective mother, in the Broadway production of ‘Thérèse Raquin’ directed by Evan Cabinet.
Judith’s Major Opera
Judith Light’s performance on ‘One Life to Live’ contributed to the show’s high ratings and won her praise from critics. The courtroom scene in which she played a housewife-turned-prostitute is still recognized as one of the most unforgettable scenes in television dramas.
TV Guide selected “Who’s the Boss?” as the 109th best sitcom of all time based on her performance in the series. In the play Wit,’ she was praised for her performance as a university professor suffering from ovarian cancer. Her portrayal of Judith Brown Ryland in the television series Dallas was praised, and Entertainment Weekly called her a “scene-stealer.”
Awards & Achievements
In 1979, Judith Light won the Soapy Award for Outstanding Actress for her work on “One Life to Live.” She won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and another Soapy Award for ‘One Life to Live’ the following year.
She was awarded the GLAAD Media Award in 1998.
In 2007, she won the Prism Award for Best Performance in a Comedy Series for her role in “Ugly Betty.”
The play “Other Desert Cities” garnered her the Drama Desk Award and the Tony Award in 2012.
She got a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award for the play “The Assembled Parties” in 2013.
Her role as Shelly Pfefferman on ‘Transparent’ netted her an Emmy nomination.
Her Personal Life
In January 1985, Judith Light married television actor Robert Desiderio. In 1968, she met her future spouse while working on the soap series “One Life to Live.”
She never desired children because her acting job would have prevented her from being a full-time mother.
Estimated Net Worth
American actress Judith Light has a net worth of $16 million. Light rose to fame after making her Broadway debut in 1970 and landing a role in the production of “A Doll’s House.” In 1977, Judith made the switch to television by accepting a role in the popular soap opera “One Life to Live.”