Judith Light and Robert Desiderio – their work brought them together, and, now, it keeps them apart for the majority of the year. However, the love they share and their deep understanding of one another holds them together.
How Did Judith Light and Robert Desiderio Meet?
The six years spent on One Life to Live as Karen Wolek, the pampered wife-turned-prostitute, netted Light a number of perks, including finical security, two Daytime Emmy Awards, and – most importantly – a husband.
“Robert Desiderio played Steve Piermont, one of the gangsters from my character’s underworld,” Light recalled to Soaps In Depth. “The producers and writers saw real chemistry between us, and they started writing for it. Robert was only on the show for a short time before leaving to work in Los Angeles, but our relationship had already been cemented on screen and off.”
Swim Or Tread Water
Subsequently, Desiderio offered his lady love an opinion that would alter the course of her future. Remembers Light, “He was the one who said, ‘You have to leave the soap, you have to go.'”
“He said, ‘There are people in another area of the business that don’t know what you can do,’ and I said, ‘Are you talking about California?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I think we should move to California… You really have to do this.'”
And despite the intense dread that momentarily seized her, Light agreed. Not long after, she signed an “exit contract” with the New York-based soap and headed across the country while her beloved character, Karen, did something similar as she ran out on husband Larry with Desiderio’s character.
Though the pickings were initially slim – consisting of guest appearances on primetime programs like St. Elsewhere and Remington Steele as well as co-starring alongside General Hospital veteran Tony Geary in Intimate Agony, the story of a doctor attempting to stymie a herpes epidemic at a popular beach resort – she eventually landed the role of Angela Bower in the future powerhouse sitcom Who’s the Boss?
After nearly three years of dating, Light and Desiderio decided to make their relationship official. But, prior to the January 1, 1985 ceremony, the couple needed to get on the same page where children were concerned.
“It was a very active, aware, conscious thing, which came out of an intense dialogue with my husband before we were married. Speaking with each other, finding out where we both stood in relating around this, saved us a lot of heartache later.
“Let’s be clear, motherhood is a job. It is a joyful job, and it is a demanding job. I had other things to do. It’s not that I had more to do. Had we made the other choice, I think it would have been fine. I think we would have absolutely made it work. I think we would have possibly been good parents, not necessarily great parents.”
For Light, having someone else’s love affair to emulate helped her understand the type of union that she wanted to have with Desiderio. “Our two people are our longtime managers. They have the best relationship of anyone I have ever seen… I think if you have somebody to model yourself after, if you see what works and then apply it… I think that’s really one of the keys.”
Knowing Their Limits
They added some sizzle and spice to the daytime hour between 1982 and 1983, but Light and Desiderio have since nixed the idea of repeating their proven success. “We decided to keep our careers separate long ago,” explained Light. “We feel it’s important to establish ourselves as individuals… Once achieved, we can work together.”
The closest they ever came was Save Me, a dramatic feature authored by Desiderio with Light in a lead role.
Judith Light and Robert Desiderio – Not Your Average Marrieds
In an October 2017 sitdown with People magazine, Light admitted that the secret to her then 32-year-old marriage was long distance. “It’s been the best. I highly recommend it.”
“There’s a solid, different kind of intimacy that comes about out of this and the support for each other and each other’s lives. I think people need alone time. I know I’m one of those people that needs that.”
While some naysayers may scoff, Light remains resolute that this arrangement is what works best for her and Desiderio. “This is the kind of marriage that we have. We adore each other. We want to stay together. We have this very vital, exciting life together.”
Plus they see each other often. “I’m there [California] all the time…” and, most importantly, “we’re on each other’s team.”