Judith Ellen Light (born February 9, 1949) 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 series Ugly Betty and Elizabeth "Liz" Donnelly on Law & Order Special Victims Unit. She won a Tony Award in 2012 for her performance on Broadway as Silda in the play Other Desert Cities.


In this period, Light was called by her agent to audition for an understudy role in 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. 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 (Erika Slezak) from being convicted of killing Karen's pimp, Marco Dane by admitting to the entire town, including her faithful husband, Dr. Larry Wolek, 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, 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. Light spent most of the 1990s starring in made-for-TV and feature films. From 2002 to 2010, she had a recurring role on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Judge Elizabeth Donnelly, who served as a Bureau Chief ADA in the Manhattan District Attorney's office before being appointed to the bench in Season 7. From 2006 until 2010, she starred as Claire Meade] on ABC's Ugly Betty. The role earned her an Emmy nomination.


Film and Television
Year Title Role Notes
1977 Kojak Laetitia Palmerance 1 episode
1977-83, 2013 One Life to Live

Karen Wolek


Daytime soap opera
1983 Intimate Agony Marsha TV movie
a.k.a. Doctor in Paradise
St. Elsewhere Barbara Lonnicker 1 episode
Family Ties Stacey Hughes 1 episode
1984 The Mississippi 1 episode
Remington Steele Clarissa Custer 1 episode
You Are the Jury Elizabeth Harding 1 episode
1986 Charmed Lives Angela Bower 1 episode
1987 Stamp of a Killer Cathy Proctor TV movie
a.k.a. Dangerous Affection
1989 The Ryan White Story Jeanne White TV movie
My Boyfriend's Back Vickie Vine TV movie
1990 In Defense of a Married Man Laura Simmons TV movie
1991 Wife, Mother, Murderer Marie Hilley/Robbi/Teri TV movie
a.k.a. Wife, Mother, Murderer: The Marie Hilley Story
1984-92 Who's the Boss? Angela Bower 196 episodes
Nominated — TV Land Award
1993 Men Don't Tell Laura MacAffrey TV movie
1993-94 Phenom Dianne Doolan 22 episodes
1994 Betrayal of Trust Barbara Noël TV movie
a.k.a. Under the Influence
Against Their Will: Women in Prison Alice Needham TV movie
a.k.a. Caged Seduction: The Shocking True Story
1995 Lady Killer Janice Mitchell TV movie
1996 A Husband, a Wife and a Lover Lisa McKeever TV movie
a.k.a. A Strange Affair
Murder at My Door Irene McNair TV movie
A Step Toward Tomorrow Anna Lerner
1996-97 Duckman Ursula Bacon 'Honey' Chicken (voice) 3 episodes
1997 Too Close to Home Diana Donahue TV movie
Cow and Chicken Nurse (voice) 1 episode
1998 The Simple Life Sara Campbell 7 episodes
Carriers Maj. Carmen Travis TV movie
2000 Joseph: King of Dreams Zuleika voice
2002 Spin City Christine 1 episode
2004 The Stones (TV series) Barbara Stone 9 episodes
2006 Ira and Abby Arlene Black
A Broken Sole Hilary
Twenty Good Years Gina 3 episodes
2007 Save Me (film) Gayle
2006-10 Ugly Betty Claire Meade 72 episodes
2002–2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Elizabeth Donnelly 25 episodes
2011 Nurse Jackie Maureen Cooper 1 episode
2012 The Exes Marjorie 2 episodes
2012 Scrooge & Marley Narrator
2013 Last Weekend Veronika Goss
2013-present Dallas (2012 TV series) Judith Ryland


External linksEdit

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