While Judith Light made her name in daytime TV in the early 1980s and then spent most of the next quarter century appearing on primetime, her first love remains the theater. So, thirty-five years after making her Broadway debut in a small role in a production of “The Doll’s House” starring Liv Ullman, Light was thrilled to return to the rialto this season as the dutiful wife of famed football coach Vince Lombardi in “Lombardi.”
When the Tony nominations were announced last month, she was recognized for her work, earning a nod in the competitive Featured Play Actress race. Her competition is screen vet Ellen Barkin (“The Normal Heart”), four-time Emmy champ Edie Falco (“The House of Blue Leaves”), Elizabeth Rodriguez (“The Motherfucker With the Hat”) and BAFTA champ Joanna Lumley (“La Bete”). While happy for herself, Light was disappointed that the rest of the “Lombardi” cast, led by TV vet Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”) was overlooked.
In our revealing interview, Light recalls being ready to give up acting in the late 1970s until a bit part on “One Life to Live” turned into a showy role as an ex-hooker that landed her two consecutive Daytime Emmys as Best Actress in 1980 and 1981. While she went unrecognized by the Primetime Emmys for her hit sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” she did contend for her guest role on the laffer “Ugly Betty” in 2007. As she wryly observes, she lost to a theater veteran, Tony champ Elaine Stritch, who played Alec Baldwin‘s mad mama on “30 Rock.”