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Judith Light On The Return of One Life to Live, Karen's Courtroom Testimony, DALLAS & Her New Play!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Two-time Daytime Emmy winner and Tony winner, Judith Light spoke with On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman for a very special interview for FrontiersLA.com! 

The in-depth conversation spotlighted Light’s career in the theatre, primetime television and film, and of course, her now iconic as Karen Wolek on One Life to Live, and her latest role as the twisted Judith Brown Ryland on TNT”s Dallas!  In addition, Light, who is one of the leading advocates and friends to the LGBT community, weighed in on the issues of equality for all, and how she became an activist.

Judith is currently in previews for the new dramatic Broadway play, The Assembled Parties which is set to have its opening night on April 17th, which also stars ATWT favorite, Jake Silberman!  Here are few very interesting excerpts from the interview for all One Life to Live and Dallas fans!

The show that gave you your start One Life to Live was canceled in 2011, and went off the air in January of 2012; only it has a second life to live! One Life is coming back online with all new episodes on April 29. What are your thoughts that his iconic soap is literally coming back from the dead?

JUDITH: I think it is so fantastic, and I am so happy for everyone. I am not just happy for the people on the show, because it was something that they had devoted themselves to for such a long time, but also the fact that the fans are the ones who really demanded it! They were the ones that put themselves on the line and put themselves out there, and they got what they wanted and what they deserved. It makes me so happy. You want for people to want what they have longed for, and what they have been devoted to. This is a demonstration of the power of the people.

Courtesy/ABC

A few weeks ago, the internet was abuzz again with posting the clips and scenes of the 34th anniversary of the ultimate soap opera performance of you as Karen Wolek in the Daytime Emmy winning courtroom scene on One Life to Live from 1979! What do you think about that performance, when you look back at it today?

JUDITH: I think dynamically for the culture, as we were talking about before, what it demonstrates is the need to have the courage to come out. When people see that they are moved by it, because against all odds, against every secret, against ever knowing that she will be rejected by her community, her husband, her friends, everyone in her life just about, she knows that she has to tell the truth about what she had done. And in doing so, it sets her free.  I think at a deep profound level which we all know and can feel, there is that oneness and connectedness. Karen’s omission on the witness stand is an ionic moment, because everyone understands that at a very deep profound level. It’s not only that performance; it’s what the moment in time symbolizes … something that everyone can recognize as a kind of bravery to support a friend that simply has to be done. It doesn’t just free the friend; it frees the person who was doing it, as well. You also have to understand, that was a year and a half of putting every piece of that story in place. When I came on OLTL they said to me, “We want to do the story from the movie Belle de Jour with Catherine Deneuve.” It was the story of this woman who was a prostitute during the day and was married to this man, and that was her life. They said, “What do you think of this story?”  I said, “I think it’s brilliant.”   So they carefully laid in the pieces of that, and you have to look at the level of writing! People say, “Ech, Soap Operas!” Look at what they created! I believe it is one of TV Guide’s Top 100 Moments in Television. It is for the depth of the story, the writing of the story, the year-and-a-half of placing it in real time, and then having the courtroom scene being the culmination of it. I think that is why people still relate to it.

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Let’s now talk about your fantastic new role on TNT’s Dallas reboot! Why did you choose to play Judith Brown Ryland on Dallas? She is so creepy! [Laughs]

Courtesy/TNT

JUDITH: If you saw the character description, you don’t say “No.” We read the character description, and went, “Oh, my God!” The first writing sample was so exciting and thrilling to work on. The reason that I choose the way that I choose, is not only to satisfy my own creative interests. Certainly that is there, there is no question about it. But to me, theater, television and film, and art in general, are a way in for people to view their own psychology. Subsequently, I think it’s a way to talk about the culture, and who we are as human beings. Now I know those are lofty things to talk about, but I try to talk about them in a way people can relate to them. I can go do Judith Brown Ryland in my bathroom and it won’t make any difference. [Laughs] In people seeing a character like Judith Brown Ryland, who is so controlling and so angry, and needs to make the world the way she wants it, and the sorrow and the reaction that comes from that, maybe someone will say, “I see myself in that, or I see a relative of mine in that, and I want to make it be different.”

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That Texas drawl of an accent you have as Judith Brown Ryland is subtle but so delicious! I am sure you are aware that everywhere on the internet, Dallas and Judith Light fans are screaming, “She is too young to play Harris’ mother! Judith and Mitch Pileggi (Harris) are not that far apart in age!”

JUDITH: All I want to say to people is: look at the film Manchurian Candidate. Angela Lansbury was only three years older than Lawrence Harvey when she played that part. I think people are forgetting and not understanding how young Judith Brown Ryland was when she had Harris. I know everyone is saying she is too young, and everyone is talking about this. I want to say to people don’t just look at it at the surface …  go a little deeper as to why Harris and Judith are not that discrepant in age. It will educate the public to what this is really all about. And, why they in fact, chose me to play his mother, and why the dynamic between the two of us is so infinitely off balance. I appreciate that people think I look good, that’s so nice! [Laughs]

Photo Credit: Joe Marzullo

You were just honored a few weeks ago by the MCC (Manhattan Class Company) for your career in stage, film and television at their annual Miscast Gala in New York City! It was quite a turnout, and looked like a fun night! Were you shocked at all the stars and accolades bestowed upon you?

JUDITH: First off, they did a rap of my entire career! You have to hear this rap! It’s completely stunning. It starts with my career on One Life to Live. It’s brilliant and off the charts. My mouth was hanging open, and someone said to me finally, “You better close your mouth. They are taking pictures.” [Laughs] It was truly one of the highlights of my entire life. I truly don’t know how to describe it, and it was beyond words.

Now below check out the promotional video for Judith’s new role as Faye in The Assembled Parties.  For ticket information click here!

Then, Let us know what you thought of Judith’s comments on the fan support bringing back One Life to Live?  Her one-of-a-kind performance when Karen confessed all on the witness stand on One Life?  Her new role on DALLAS as Judith Brown Ryland?  And, what did you think of the rap (check the link in the final question) which payed homage to her sterling career starting with One Life to Live?  Let us know!

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Iakovos
Iakovos

I adore this woman. Judith Light is a delight to watch. I remember so very well that OLTL testimony. Amazing stuff. It is good to know she regards this aspect of her career well and recalls it fondly for and with her fans. Thank you!

Tali
Tali

I too remember – it was iconic! Loved her on “Who’s the Boss” and her new role on Dallas. Hope she’ll grace the tv screen more often. She’s been great!

Joliefan Forever
Joliefan Forever

I loved her as District Attorney/Judge Elizabeth Donnelly on Law and Order SVU

Carole
Carole

I love her as udith and can’t wait to find out what is really going on with her and Harris!

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

Bravo Judith Light. Magnificent as always.

ethel
ethel

judith light = awesomness – loved her ever since was karen wolek on oltl!

GertieGal
GertieGal

In regards to Dallas, am I understanding her correctly??? Is she saying that she was just a child when she had Harris??? Was she raped by her father maybe and that is why she is the way she is???? Sounds delicious….

Edna Barefoot
Edna Barefoot

I love Judith Light. I have watched her in OLTL on the witness stand several times. Each time I cry again. It was heart wrenching. Haven’t seen Dallas so I can’t say. I loved her in Who’s the boss. She can play any part & make you believe it. It is good to hear that the stars recognize all we the fans did to get our soaps back. And we did that because the stars are so talented that they feel like family to us. Thank you Michael for the article. I really enjoy your writing.

Jamie
Jamie

Judith is so amazing. I’m intrigued to know the story about her and Harris’ relationship on Dallas. Judith Light is truly a delight to watch on everything she does. She makes the viewers feel what she feels. Wish I could go see her play.

nancy
nancy

I just love Judith and have followed her since her days on OLTL. When I saw she had been cast on Dallas I practically jumped up and down with glee. 🙂

Fakeer Raheem
Fakeer Raheem

The lyrics to the rap tune dedicated to Judith Light is absolutely fabulous and totally accurate: She IS so good she can’t be miscast! Truer words were never spoken about any performer in my lifetime.

Breaking News

‘Dallas’ star Ken Kercheval Dead At Age 83

Sad news to report for fans of the iconic primetime soap, Dallas.  Ken Kercheval, who played the thorn in J.R. Ewing’s (Larry Hagman) side, Cliff Barnes, has passed away.   The actor was 83 and died at his home in Indiana on Sunday.   The cause of death is under wraps.  He had been previously open about being a lung cancer survivor after years of smoking.

Kercheval was on Dallas for its entire run on CBS from 1978 to 1991, and returned to the TNT reboot from 2012 to 2014 to reprise his signature role.

On Dallas, Cliff Barnes was always the perennial loser when he went toe to toe with ruthless J.R, but in the final season, Cliff beats J.R at his own game and takes over Ewing Oil.  Cliff was also hopelessly in love with Sue Ellen Ewing (Linda Gray) and was the brother to Pam Barnes, played by Victoria Principal.

As for Ken’s first big acting breaks, that came on daytime soap operas when early in his career he appeared on Search for Tomorrow and How to Survive a Marriage.

Later, he appeared on episodic dramas such as Starsky & Hutch, and Crossing Jordan.  His final role was in a movie, 2019’s Surviving in L.A. said to be a comedy/drama in which he plays the business manager of a former teen sitcom star who trashed her life through drug abuse and is fresh out of rehab.

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Share your thoughts on the passing of Ken Kercheval in the comment section below.   But first, watch him as Cliff Barnes in this scene from TNT’s Dallas when he sees J.R. for the first time in years!

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Breaking News

Is That You Bobby Ewing? ‘Dallas’ Favorite Patrick Duffy Dons New Look For Guest Spot On ‘American Housewife’

In this week’s tis’ the season episode of the comedy series, American Housewife, none other than former  Dallas and The Bold and the Beautiful star Patrick Duffy returns to TV, when in story, Katie (Katie Nixon) strives to keep her long-separated parents apart when her father, Marty (Duffy), arrives in time to surprise the Otto family for Christmas.  The episode is aptly titled, “Saving Christmas”

This then puts Marty face-to-face and toe-to-toe with ex-wife Kathryn, played by the wonderful Wendie Malick.

Soap fans will remember the Hot in Cleveland crossover between Malick and Susan Lucci of All My Children.

The first look photos of Duffy on American Housewife were first delivered by ABC to TV Insider.

The Duffy-esque episode airs on Wednesday December 12th (8:30pm EST)

For Dallas fans, they are still wishing that that somehow the show will still come back in another incarnation after its latest (the TNT version) was canned after three seasons.

Will you be checking out Patrick on American Housewife? What do you think of the ponytail look? Comment below.

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Dallas

Y&R and Dallas Alum, Oscar Winner George Kennedy Has Died

Photo Credit: WireImage

George Kennedy,  the Oscar-winning star of 1967’s Cool Hand Luke, which also starred Paul Newman has died at age 91, his grandson, Cory Schenkel confirmed.

Kennedy died in his sleep at his Boise, Idaho home early Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards.  He had been in failing health ever since his wife Joan died a little over a year ago. George had been under hospice care for the past month.

In the soaps, Kennedy is most remembered for his guest stints on The Young and the Restless playing Victor Newman’s despicable father, Albert Miller.  Kennedy first played the role in 2003 and then reprised it again in 2010.   Victor’s relationship with his father gave Eric Braeden some of the finest material of his career as the complex Victor.  Albert had abandoned his family, causing his son to be raised in an orphanage.

CBS original primetime soap Dallas also featured Kennedy as Carter McKay, one of the Ewing families bitter enemies from 1988 to 1991.  Geroge also played the role in two follow-up TV movies, 1996’s Dallas: J.R. Returns and 1998’s Dallas: War of the Ewings.  In addition, Kennedy appeared in several of the 70’s major disaster films including the original Airport and several sequels, as well as in Earthquake.  In the 80’s, he would appear in The Naked Gun franchise of films along with Leslie Nielsen.

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After the jump, watch George Kennedy as Albert on The Young and the Restless in scenes with Eric Braeden and Joshua Morrow (Nick).  Then share your thoughts on the passing of this talented actor in the comment section below! (more…)

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