Judith Light

Active - 1977 - 2017  |   Born - Feb 9, 1949 in Trenton, NJ  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime

Share on

Though she is normally recognized as Angela Bower, the prissy, executive counterpart to Tony Danza's rough-hewn Italian nanny on the long-running television series Who's the Boss?, Judith Light considers her crowning achievement to be her activism in the fight against AIDS and gender discrimination. Born in Trenton, NJ, Light discovered her passion for the performing arts at a Pennsylvania summer camp at 12 years old. Light's high school drama teacher later encouraged her to attend the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, and the young actress found herself with a role in a Broadway production of A Doll's House by the mid-'70s. Despite her initial success, however, Light still found herself extraordinarily poor, at one point living on only ten dollars per week. Rather than holding her back, though, poverty not only increased Light's determination to act, but to use it as a tool in the fight against all forms of bigotry.

Light's big break came in the form of One Life to Live, the Emmy-winning soap opera, which offered the aspiring actress a role that brought with it a steady paycheck until the inception of Who's the Boss? in 1983. In addition to her sitcom performances, Light starred with great success in The Ryan White Story, a docudrama concerning the real-life fight of a hemophiliac who contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion. In addition to having established herself as one of the first celebrity activists in the battle against HIV and AIDS, Light also became a passionate volunteer for a variety of charitable organizations including Heart Strings and Project Angel Food.

In 1998, after a long, successful stint in the television-movie world, Light flexed her comedy muscles again for The Simple Life, a short-lived television series featuring Light as a big-shot businesswoman whose move to the country is far from what she had expected. A year later, Light immersed herself in Wit, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play revolving around a brash, no-nonsense cancer victim's slow acceptance of her own mortality. In 2004, Light starred in The Stones, a CBS television series. She would go on to star on Ugly Betty and Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit as Judge Elizabeth Donnelly.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography

Factsheet

  • Toured with the USO in a production of Guys and Dolls while still in college. 
  • In the early 1970s, performed with the Milwaukee Repertory and the Seattle Repertory Theatres.
  • Made her Broadway debut in a 1975 production of A Doll's House.
  • Garnered critical acclaim as housewife-turned-prostitute Karen Wolek on the soap One Life to Live, earning two consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards in 1980 and 1981.
  • Played the mother of a boy stricken with AIDS in the 1989 TV-biopic The Ryan White Story, which prompted her to become involved with several AIDS charities including Project Angel Food, Heart Strings and the Names Project.
  • Took voice lessons and shaved off her blonde tresses to play a cancer-stricken English professor in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit.
  • Along with her husband, Robert Desiderio, she was presented with the Making a Difference Award on behalf of the Matthew Shepard Foundation in 2006.
  • Along with her work for AIDS charities, Light is also an advocate for LGBT and human-rights organizations, including GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign.