Parents

81-year-old actress and mom, Alice Duffy makes Broadway debut

Jan. 27, 2010 at 11:31 AM ET

From NBC Nightly News producer Clare DuffyI come from a family of performers -- some paid, some pro bono, all meeting with varying levels of success and acclaim on stage and screen. But never have I been more proud of my mother, Alice Duffy, a remarkable parent and human being, who this month made her debut on Broadway at age 81. The play is Noel Coward's "Present Laughter," starring Victor Garber, a Broadway veteran known to TV fans as Jennifer Garner's father in "Alias," among other roles. My mother has a tiny part in the show, and she's on stage for about 10 minutes, but she makes the most of it -- as she does with every part she plays. She could have made a career out of it, as her brother did -- the late, and truly great Peter Boyle. But my mother did what a lot of women of her era did: She focused her energies on family, raising three children. But she never lost her love of the theatre. When she got back into the theatre in Boston as a character actress, doing plays, television commercials and even movies, I learned a very important lesson -- that it's never too late to do what you love. And I've loved the chance to see my mother admired by her fellow actors, reveling in a world that's helped her get through some very hard times -- losing my father, both of her siblings and, just four months ago, my sister. When my friend and colleague Anne Thompson suggested doing a story on my mother, she demurred, claiming her part wasn't big enough. I don't know anyone who's got so much to brag about, but who's so disinclined to do so. But Anne and my friend, producer John O'Rourke, persisted, and I think what they've come up with is a story that should inspire anyone of any age. Take a look: Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
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