Editor's note: While Nightly News producer Clare Duffy is in Vancouver covering the Olympics, her 81-year-old mom, an actress, is making her Broadway debut. Her inspiring story was told this morning on the Today Show, and Clare has also written this post.
By NBC Nightly News producer Clare Duffy
I 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: