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Judith Light (1949)

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Judith Ellen Light is an American actress. Her television roles include Karen Wolek on the soap opera One Life to Live, Angela Bower on the sitcom Who's the Boss?, Claire Meade on ABC's TV series Ugly Betty and Judge Elizabeth "Liz" Donnelly on Law & Order Special Victims Unit.

  Biography  

 early life
Light was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the daughter of Pearl Sue (née Hollander), a model, and Sidney Light, an accountant. Light graduated from high school in 1966 at St. Mary's Hall-Doane Academy, now Doane Academy, in Burlington, New Jersey.
She graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a degree in drama. She recalled the university as "rigorous" and "amazing". Afterwards, she started out on stage, making her professional debut in Richard III at the California Shakespeare Festival in 1970, before moving to Broadway to star in A Doll's House in 1975. She also starred in the 1976 Broadway play Herzl. Light also acted for such theatre companies as the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. In the late 1970s, Light went through a real crisis after a period of not landing any parts. Broke, she almost quit acting, because she felt that she was not contributing to the theater.

 career
In this period, Light was called by her agent to audition for an understudy role in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. Never wanting to be attached to a soap opera or a sitcom, she initially rejected the idea, until she was told that she would have a daily salary of US$350. At the audition, she realized that "the format reaches a lot of people", and that she could thereby "make a difference" and "make money" at the same time. Instead of landing an understudy role, she was recast in the role of Karen Wolek, a role that had previously been portrayed by actresses Kathryn Breech and Julia Duffy. This role was quite lucrative for Light and spawned one of the show's most-remembered storylines; Light's character became a prostitute after she became bored with her life as a housewife.
On trial, Karen saved her friend Viki Lord Riley from being convicted of killing her pimp by admitting to the entire town, including her faithful husband, that she had been a prostitute. In 1980, this won Light her first Daytime Emmy Award for "Lead Actress in a Daytime Drama Series"; the scene in which she confessed her guilt in court is held in such high esteem that it is used in acting classes to the current day. Light recalled:

"I was scared before those courtroom scenes. I was afraid to put myself out that much. With the agony of pulling it out piece by piece and having the prosecutor stick the knife in her gut, I couldn't help but let everything spew out of her."

Light won another Emmy in the role in 1981. She appeared in an episode of St. Elsewhere in its first season, called "Dog Day Hospital", in which she played a housewife who became pregnant for the 9th time even though her husband claimed he had a vasectomy. In an effort to punish the doctor who botched the job she took an operating room hostage though it was later revealed that her husband had not had the procedure.

After this success on daytime, she landed the role of assertive advertising executive Angela Bower on the ABC sitcom Who's the Boss. Co-starring Tony Danza, who played her housekeeper , the show ran for eight seasons from 1984 to 1992. TV Guide has Who's the Boss? ranked as the 109th best sitcom of all time.

Light spent most of the 1990s starring in made-for-TV and feature films such as Men Don't Tell and 1997's Too Close to Home, which co-starred Rick Schroder. She also starred on the sitcom Phenom, which ran for only one season (1993–1994) before being canceled.

In 2000 she received critical acclaim when she starred on stage as Dr. Vivian Bearing in Wit, Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about an academic dying from ovarian cancer.

Since 2002, she has had a recurring role on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where she plays Judge Elizabeth Donnelly, who served as an EADA and Bureau Chief in the Manhattan District Attorney's office before being appointed to the bench in Season 7.

In 2006 she landed the recurring role of Claire Meade, the alcoholic mother of Daniel and Alexis Meade, on ABC's Ugly Betty. The role earned her an Emmy nomination.

Light appeared in a May 2006 episode of Family Guy ("Untitled Griffin Family History") wherein she voiced a cartoon version of herself obsessed with former co-star Tony Danza and making out with a constructed dummy of Tony in her house. She also recently appeared in an episode of the NBC sitcom Twenty Good Years.

In 2007 Light starred as a radical Christian woman in Save Me an independent film. Light's character, Gayle, runs a Christian ministry known as Genesis House, which works to help gay men recover from their 'affliction.' She is challenged by the arrival of Mark, an ill gay man who reminds Gayle of her dead, gay son, and the movie chronicles the challenges of the two as they learn to accept each other as they are.

In 2011 Light was nominated for a Tony award for her role in the Broadway production of Lombardi.

 personal life
Light is Jewish. She has been married to television actor Robert Desiderio since 1985, when they met while co-starring on One Life to Live. They have no children. She speaks French fluently.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Judith Light", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.