Judith Light

Judith Light Biography

Television Actress, Actress, Theater Actress (1949–)
Judith Light is an American actress who played Angela Bower on 'Who's the Boss?' and won Tony Awards for her roles in 'Other Desert Cities' and 'The Assembled Parties.'


Judith Light was born on February 9, 1949, in Trenton, New Jersey. From 1977 to 1983, she starred on the soap opera One Life to Live. She then moved on to guest spots on several prime time series before landing a role on the popular sitcom Who’s the Boss? She began appearing on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2002, and four years later she joined the cast of Ugly Betty. In 2012, Light received a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway play Other Desert Cities, and she picked up another Tony the following year for The Assembled Parties. The actress has since co-starred on the Amazon series Transparent, receiving her first Golden Globe nomination for her work. 

Early Life

Judith Ellen Licht was born on February 9, 1949, in Trenton, New Jersey. Now known as Judith Light, she is regarded as a versatile performer, having successfully tackled daytime dramas, prime time sitcoms and the New York stage. A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, Light made her Broadway debut in a 1975 revival of Henrik Ibsen's drama A Doll's House.

Hit With 'Who's the Boss?'

Two years later, Light was on her way to becoming a darling of daytime television, as Karen Wolek on One Life to Live. From 1977 to 1983, she played a reformed prostitute, a performance that netted her two Daytime Emmy Awards. Light moved on to guest spots on several prime time series, such as St. Elsewhere and Family Ties, before landing a starring role on Who's the Boss?

On the popular sitcom, which debuted in 1984, Light played Angela Bower, a powerful advertising executive and divorced mother of one, who hired former baseball player Tony Micelli (Tony Danza) to be her live-in housekeeper. Much of the comedy came from their domestic situation and clashing backgrounds. Tony's daughter, Samantha (Alyssa Milano); Angela's son, Jonathan (Danny Pintauro); and Angela's mother, Mona (Katherine Helmond), completed the cast. Audiences really liked Light's portrayal of an uptight but caring career woman and enjoyed the romantic tension between Angela and Tony. The show lasted for eight seasons, finishing its run in 1992.

Following the show's end, Light starred in several TV movies and made a few attempts to return to series television, including the short-lived 1993 show Phenom and 1998's The Simple Life. She returned to the stage in 1999, in the off-Broadway production of Wit. She earned strong reviews for her portrayal of a university professor battling ovarian cancer, and reprised the role for the national tour.

'Ugly Betty' and 'Transparent'

Light didn't stay away from TV for too long, however. In 2002, she took on a recurring role on the hit series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, playing a sharp, tough judge. She then returned to her comedic roots in 2006, with the dramatic comedy Ugly Betty, starring America Ferrera. On the series, Light portrays Claire Meade, the much-beleaguered, heavy drinking wife of a publishing titan.

In 2012, Light was back in the media spotlight after she received a Tony Award for best featured actress in a play, for her role as a witty alcoholic in the Broadway production Other Desert Cities. The following year, Light brought home another featured actress in a play Tony for her role in The Assembled Parties.

Light continued to be a formidable screen presence, appearing in a number of projects that included the soap opera revival of Dallas. In 2014, she was part of the original ensemble cast of the Amazon series Transparent, playing Shelly Pfefferman, the former wife of a professor (Jeffrey Tambor) who comes out as transgender. Created by Jill Soloway, Transparent has earned an array of accolades, with Light receiving her first Golden Globe nomination right before the show's second season.

Personal Life

Since 1985, Light has been married to fellow actor Robert Desiderio. The couple met on the set of One Life to Live. In addition to acting, Light is a strong supporter of a number of AIDS-related charities.

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