Tony nominee Judith Light (“Lombardi”) hasn’t heard yet from the soap “One Life to Live” with an offer to return before the show ends in January 2012. Light appeared on “One Life” in the 1980s and arguably made the single most lasting impression of any actor in that show’s history other than star Erika Slezak. She played Karen Wolek, a housewife who was also a hooker. Coincidentally, the man who played Karen’s pimp, Gus, was actor Dan Lauria–who is now Light’s co-star in “Lombardi” as the famous coach.
Judith and husband Robert Desiderio were among the guests last evening at the Tony Awards cocktail party and presentation of lifetime achievement and special awards. Angela Lansbury, Vanessa Redgrave, and Lily Rabe were also among the notables at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel event. Phil Smith, who’s been with the Shubert Organization since 1957 and now leads it, was one of the honorees. Manhattan’s Drama Book Store also got an award.
Light has had a pretty terrific career since appearing on “One Life to Live.” She went on to star in prime time’s “Who’s the Boss?” When that ended, Light went to Broadway and got outstanding reviews for her work in Margaret Edson‘s award winning play, “Wit.”The New York Times’ Peter Marks wrote in 1999: “All eyes, though, are on Ms. Light, as well they should be. Her conjuring of an unstoppable life force as it draws to a halt is cause for grief, but mostly exaltation. No wonder the lighting designer Michael Chybowski blankets her final exit — one of the great treatments of nudity on a contemporary stage — in ethereal white light. When she departs, it is truly in a blaze of glory.”
Tonight Judith Light goes up against Ellen Barkin in “The Normal Heart” for best featured actress in a play. She told me Saturday night she doesn’t think she’ll win. “But it’s great being included.”
What about “One Life to Live”? “Let’s get through [Sunday] night first,” she said. But really, she knows it: if the show’s fans could be polled, Judith Light is the one actor they’d want to see return, even if briefly, for a big finale.