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Judith Light
Judith Light 2015.jpg
Light in 2015
Judith Ellen Light

February 9, 1949 (1949-02-09) (age 72)
Education St. Mary's Hall–Doane Academy
Alma mater Carnegie Mellon University
Occupation Actress, producer
Years active 1970–present
Robert Desiderio
(m. 1985)

Judith Ellen Light (born February 9, 1949) is an American actress, producer, and activist.

Light made her professional stage debut in 1970, before making her Broadway debut in the 1975 revival of A Doll's House. Her breakthrough role was in the ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live from 1977 to 1983, where she played the role of Karen Wolek. For this role, she won two consecutive Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

She later starred as Angela Bower in the long-running ABC sitcom Who's the Boss? from 1984 to 1992, and later starred in many television films and short-lived series. She played the recurring role of Elizabeth Donnelly in the NBC legal crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2002–2010) and Claire Meade in the ABC comedy-drama Ugly Betty (2006–2010), for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 2007.

She received her first nomination for a Tony Award in 2011, for her performance in the original Broadway play Lombardi. In 2012 and 2013, Light won two consecutive Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play, for her performances in Other Desert Cities and The Assembled Parties.

From 2013 to 2014, Light played the role of villainous Judith Brown Ryland in the TNT drama series, Dallas. In 2014, she began starring as Shelly Pfefferman in the critically acclaimed Amazon Studios dark comedy-drama series Transparent, for which she received Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, and Critics' Choice Television Award nominations.

Light is a prominent LGBT and HIV/AIDS activist, beginning her advocacy work in the early 1980s.

Early life

Judith Light headshot
Judith Light 2007

Light was born to a Jewish family 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 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.

Personal life

Light has been married to television actor Robert Desiderio since 1985. The couple live apart: she in New York City, and he in Southern California. She is Jewish and considers herself religious, without being attached to institutional religion.

After being inspired by the LGBTQ community, Light began advocating people with HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s. She was one of the first celebrities to advocate against the social stigma encounter by LGBT people and those with AIDS. She has served on the boards of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Point Foundation, an support organization for students discriminated against based on preferred partner orientation or gender.


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Kojak Laetitia Palmerance Episode: "Monkey on a String"
1977–83 One Life to Live Karen Wolek Series regular
1983 St. Elsewhere Barbara Lonnicker Episode: "Dog Day Hospital"
1983 Family Ties Stacey Hughes Episode: "Not an Affair to Remember"
1983 Intimate Agony Marsha Television film
1984 The Mississippi Episode: "Home Again"
1984 Remington Steele Clarissa Custer Episode: "Dreams of Steele"
1984 You Are the Jury Elizabeth Harding Episode: "The Case of the People of Florida vs. Joseph Landrum"
1984–92 Who's the Boss? Angela Bower Series regular, 196 episodes
1986 Charmed Lives Angela Bower Episode: "Pilot"
1987 Stamp of a Killer Cathy Proctor Television film
1989 The Ryan White Story Jeanne White Television film
1989 My Boyfriend's Back Vickie Vine Television film
1990 In Defense of a Married Man Laura Simmons Television film
1991 Wife, Mother, Murderer Marie Hilley/Robbi/Teri Television film
1993 Men Don't Tell Laura MacAffrey Television film
1993–94 Phenom Dianne Doolan Series regular, 22 episodes
1994 Betrayal of Trust Barbara Noël Television film
1994 Against Their Will: Women in Prison Alice Needham Television film
1995 Lady Killer Janice Mitchell Television film
1996–97 Duckman Ursula Bacon "Honey" Chicken Voice, 3 episodes
1996 A Strange Affair Lisa McKeever Television film
1996 Murder at My Door Irene McNair Television film
1997 Cow and Chicken Nurse (voice) Episode: "Space Cow/The Legend of Sailcat"
1997 Too Close to Home Diana Donahue Television film
1998 Carriers Maj. Carmen Travis Television film
1998 The Simple Life Sara Campbell Series regular, 7 episodes
2002 Spin City Christine Episode: "O Mother, Where Art Thou?"
2002–10 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elizabeth Donnelly Recurring role, 25 episodes
2004 The Stones Barbara Stone Series regular, 9 episodes
2006 Twenty Good Years Gina Recurring role, 3 episodes
2006–10 Ugly Betty Claire Meade Series regular, 72 episodes
2011 Nurse Jackie Maureen Cooper Episode: "Rat Falls"
2012–15 The Exes Marjorie 3 episodes
2013–14 Dallas Judith Brown Ryland Recurring role, 18 episodes
2014 Raising Hope Louise Episode: "Dinner with Tropes"
2014–present Transparent Shelly Pfefferman Series regular
2017 Doubt Carolyn Rice Recurring role, 8 episodes
2017 I'm Sorry Judy Episode: "Pilot"
2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Mrs. Wright (voice) Episode: "My Mischievous Son"
2018 The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Marilyn Miglin 2 episodes
2018 The Good Fight Deidre Quinn Episode: "Day 492"
2019 Queen America Regina Recurring character

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