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Judith Light On Her Career Highlights: "One Life to Live In The Late ’70s. That Changed My Life.”

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

She has done it all including: a daytime soap opera, a massive hit primetime sitcom, made-for-TV dramatic movies, motion pictures, and the theatre.  After winning two Tony Awards and two Daytime Emmy Awards, and being nominated for her extraordinary work in Amazon Prime’s Transparent, Judith Light has had an acting career filled with some of the most riveting and choice roles out there.

But soap opera fans will never, ever forget her stunning portrayal of Karen Wolek on One Life to Live back in the late 70’s.  And as we have reported numerous times over the years, no will ever forget Karen’s courtroom confession, which eventually won Judith her first of two Daytime Emmys, and stands among the greatest television moments in history.

This weekend in the New York Post’s Page Six, Light had spoken about some of the highlights of her critically-acclaimed career, where she noted:  “When I came back to the theater in 1999, I did a play called ‘Wit,’ and that really turned a lot of things around for me.  As well as appearing on the soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ in the late ’70s. That changed my life.”

Earlier this year in February, On-Air On-Soaps spoke with Judith during her run in the play, “God Looked Away” where she spoke of OLTL creator Agnes Nixon, as well as her role of Karen being one of the standout roles of her career.

After the jump, watch a segment of Judith’s interview with The Archive of American Television from 2015, where she discusses Karen’s courtroom confession, and the impact it has not only on her life, but that of others in the viewing audience, and more.

So, what do you think of Judith paying tribute to her soap roots and OLTL?  Comment below!

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Jimh(leave it to beaver)
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Jimh(leave it to beaver)

She done a good courtroom scene and i know i will be in the minority here but i was never truly a fan…did like Who’s The Boss…however, the courtoom scene has been talked to death like daytime done no better…dayrtmes greatest actress was the late great Beverly Mckensie who was great in every scene she played..she may never got an emmy but every thing she did on AW and GL was award winning to me!!!

Alan
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Alan

Karen’s testimony is always mentioned as one of the greatest moments in daytime because it was the perfect culmination of storytelling and character development. What really made it so memorable were the months of character driven writing with scenes of Karen falling into a life of prostitution because she felt unloved and unworthy that led up to it. Those scenes never get the play that Karen’s testimony does because they were quieter and more subtle but many of them were even more heartbreaking, watching her sleep with a parade of an anonymous men in pursuit of feeling loved for a… Read more »

Anne
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Anne

My mother is convinced that Judith Light’s court testimony was the highlight in all of One Life to Live’s long history.

Charday
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Charday

She was great on DALLAS!

dmr
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dmr

I LOVED her on Dallas. AMAZING!

rose
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rose

Charday/dmr…Unfortunately I missed Judith’s earlier career on soaps, but like both of you loved her in Dallas. Remember the scene when she met the drug dealer and went through the pat down? Gutsy! Think I’ll see if I can find it on youtube.

Edward Ramirez
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Edward Ramirez

Thank you so much. Just love her

Kathy Healy
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Kathy Healy

She was outstanding! And glad to see her pay tribute to OLTL! A lot of former soap stars don’t.

Llanviewer717
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Llanviewer717

Judith Light is a superb actress and always a joy to behold. I remember the courtroom confession as if it were yesterday. Karen Wolek was a very complex character and Ms. Light’s performance was always so very powerful.

dmr
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dmr

I was born in 1980, but always knew of the courtroom scene, and watched the episode on a “Daytime to Remember.” I’ve also watched it on YouTube, and she was outstanding. That was when storylines were full of heart and soul, and performances were of raw emotion.

mark
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mark

She was so intense on Dallas I loved her

JMER
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JMER

“We are in the service business”–I love that

Miriam
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Miriam

I loved her on OLTL and did not miss one day of her storyline. She was just awesome. It was an unforgetable performance for me…

James R. Poissant
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James R. Poissant

Scenes as powerful as that just don’t exist anymore. Some daytime stars do their best to make it come close but nothing can possibly compare to that courtroom episode. The pages of dialogue those actors had to learn had to have been very overwhelming. Very nice trip down memory lane.

Michael (not Fairman)
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Michael (not Fairman)

And one of the reasons for that is the writing, and one of the reasons for THAT is a point JL made in the first clip, which is that the courtroom scenes were the climax of a year and half of story involving multiple characters–carefully plotted and executed story, and the viewers had been allowed to see every moment, every beat play out before their eyes. Soaps got away from that kind of storytelling at some point, on the assumption that viewers–younger ones, especially–don’t have the patience for that anymore (an assumption I’m not sure really would hold up, if… Read more »

DARLENE SMITH
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DARLENE SMITH

WWOW!That’s ACTING!Thank you,Judith.That was Oscar worthy!!!

James R. Poissant
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James R. Poissant

Thank you so much for your input!!! I have been on a rage about how our stories used to be compared to now. You made my day with your response!!!

Patrick
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Patrick

Gavel : just because

“…the courtroom scenes were the climax of a year and half of story involving multiple characters–carefully plotted and executed story, and the viewers had been allowed to see every moment, every beat play out before their eyes. ”

beautiful

rebecca1
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rebecca1

I agree that soaps were very detailed and played out longer then…but I also think there are a couple of reasons why they don’t anymore. First, back then soaps were pretty guaranteed to be ongoing. When soaps were abruptly canceled, many were devastated that there was no closure. They had been written at a leisurely pace not anticipating that they wouldn’t have “tomorrow.” Because of the current climate of soap uncertainty, I think they feel it’s best to wrap up stories quickly and move on to the next… As for attention span…look at the responses we get here. So many… Read more »

Alan
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Alan

@rebecca1: I think when people complain that a story is dragging it is because today’s writers don’t understand the way to write long term story with several “reveals” and plot twists before the actual climax of the story. Today’s viewers could and would easily invest in a story that took a year or more to play out if it were carefully constructed and character-based. It’s all about the audience’s investment in a character: if the characters are beloved, the viewers will follow them through anything. The failure of most shows — daytime and nighttime — comes from underestimating the viewers’… Read more »

rebecca1
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rebecca1

Hi Alan…agree…in theory. Still, I’m not sure about today’s daytime soap audience. I UNDERSTAND what you mean, and I agree about beloved characters, etc…still…I just don’t see, gauging from many reactions here, that many have the desire to see a story played out like they did “back in the day.” LOL. I must beg to differ regarding failure of primetime! I think TV…cable AND network shows have really outdone themselves. Gone is the time when a film actor would be caught dead on a television show. Many of these shows are as good if not better than film! The problem… Read more »

Sue M.
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Sue M.

Karen Wolek!!!

rebecca1
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rebecca1

absolutely chilling performance! brilliant…and, oh…Larry Wolek, Marco Dane, Herb Callison…oh, the days when they actually filled scenes with the actors and not a sprinkling of extras….

Michael Storm (Dr. Larry Wolek) should come to Port Charles for a romance with Monica!

Alan
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Alan

Judith’s performance was brilliant but what made it even more powerful were the reactions of all the people Karen loved and lied to — her sister, her husband, her best friend, her former pimp (who was posing as his own brother) — and the reveal that not only was Talbot Huddleston was one of Karen’s tricks (and Mario Corelli’s killer and the one who beat Katrina Carr to a pulp) but that he was also the driver who ran down Brian Kendall. Karen’s testimony was edge of your seat material but waiting for her individual scenes with Larry, Jenny, Marco/Mario,… Read more »

rebecca1
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rebecca1

Kudos to you and your memory! Seriously…sounds like it was yesterday. I would never in a million years have remembered those stories; still don’t, LOL. But, I agree with your “review.” Sad that Gerald Anthony passed so young…love my idea about a Larry Wolek siting on GH…the actor is still living as far as I know. Would be great to see him again….

Steve
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Steve

Like the concept of a a Larry/Monica pairing, however Michael Storm is not a “friend of Frank”. He stopped appearing on OLTL entirely shortly after FV took over. Despite his longevity on the show, he was not asked back for even a cameo in the show’s final months.

Larry always seemed to get the short end of the stick. Meredith died. Karen moved on to more things. exciting things. Brenda fell for his son Danny. You would have thought when Ivan Kipling controlled Larry’s brain, he would have given him an excitement jolt!

JasonLovesGH
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JasonLovesGH

She’s magnificent!

PennySoap
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PennySoap

Karen Wolek in the courtroom, on the stand, was actually the first time I watched OLTL! Was a fan till the end…

Patricio
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Patricio

What people don’t mention is that scene was the end of 6 months plus of story telling about Karen being forced into prostitution and trying to defend the beloved Viki Lord. I was just a teenager but remember that storyline like it was yesterday! Life long fan!

elm1951
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elm1951

she is an extraordinary actress!!

Kim
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Kim

The courtroom scene can never be outdated or old. It’s one of the most powerful moments in the history of Daytime. I saw it live as a child; definitely influenced my love of soaps. Judith is amazing.

Steve
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Steve

Like you and Robert, I saw it live as a child. Still the best courtroom scene I remember seeing on daytime or nighttime television. Definitely the most memorable scene in the 45 year history of OLTL.

Kim
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Kim

Absolutely.

Robert in Jersey City
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Robert in Jersey City

I cut school for 43 days (in the afternoon) in 8th grade to watch the trial. When the trial was over – I went back and my teacher asked me why I came back and I told the truth – “the trial was over” – I actually watched this unfold everyday! Yes, i graduated, lol.

rebecca1
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rebecca1

LOL! Ummmm…I guess either your mom was an ardent viewer or you had some secret place to watch it???

jaybird369
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jaybird369

Judith Light has ALWAYS BEEN an A+ CLASS ACT!!!!! ALWAYS!!!!!

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