"BROADWAY IS the main artery of New York life -- the hardened artery."

So said the man who reveled in Manhattan's peccadilloes in the '30s, '40s and '50s; the fearsome columnist Walter Winchell.

BROADWAY IS now jumping because the successful Tony Awards gave it a big shot in the arm!

I finally got to the Manhattan Theatre Club's play "The Assembled Parties" and expected a halfhearted audience, as it has announced its closing on July 28. But Judith Light's second Tony win, as "Best Featured Actress," has given this play new life. The audience was wild for it and for Judith (a beautiful woman) playing against type and age as a menopausal Jewish mama distracted and triumphant as she journeys through life saying, "I haven't the slightest idea!" to everything. The other actors in the play are excellent and this is a great directing feat by Lynne Meadow.

I'll just mention Jessica Hecht as the unusual heroine, the "star" of a few movies and a woman who "didn't become Sandra Dee."

Another favorite was Jeremy Shamos who plays a guy with issues. He keeps the play focused and he is so good. He'll soon be off to make a Woody Allen movie in Paris!

Here, one gets two hours and 10 minutes of acute dialogue, mystery, suspense, warring families, crime, punishment and lots and lots of laughs. I think the title is unfortunate (you can't remember the darned thing) but this play by Richard Greenberg would make a good movie for somebody who cares about families who care too much and too little. There is as much drama here as in the most penetrating of Tennessee Williams'.

It is a pleasure to go to the Samuel Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street because the Peter and Susan Solomon salon upstairs is a welcoming spot where one can catch one's breath from the crazy crowds outside in Times Square.

Writer Billy Norwich and I had a fabulous evening at this theater and at Orso's afterward where Bette Midler was celebrating in the back room and we got to say hello to such as Larry King and his brother Marty Zeiger, publisher Mort Zuckerman, who is suddenly handsome, with a fabulous lady, and Nan and Bruce Weber of the photography Webers, who told me they've gotten their Montauk house repaired after Hurricane Sandy. These 7 o'clock curtains, enjoyed on various Tuesdays, make it possible for one to endure and get to bed before midnight.

SPEAKING OF the abovementioned Judith Light, her old soap opera, "One Life to Live," which was canceled by ABC, will return to the real airwaves on July 15, on Oprah's OWN network. As I reported earlier, they are picking the series' up from The Online Network and will air 40 episodes over the next 10 weeks.

Judith Light became an instant soap opera cult figure with her portrayal of the troubled Karen Wolek. Her intense, tear-drenched week-long courtroom testimony won Light a Daytime Emmy and is still referred to as a performance every actor has to watch! And, of course, she was the co-star of the comedy sitcom "Who's the Boss?"

Erica Slezak is still on "One Life to Live" as matriarch Vicki Lord, who has the occasional split personality. (If you want to make Miss Slezak laugh, just ask her, "How's Vicki/Nicki these days?!")

Susan Lucci, the much-married vixen queen of "All My Children," isn't on board yet with her revamped soap, but rumor has it she wouldn't be adverse to reprising her classic character.

TAKE A LOOK at a great man -- Mr. Fred Bass of the famous Strand bookstore down just below 14th Street on Broadway. He is celebrating being 85 but tells me that he'd just as soon skip counting birthdays. I feel the same way; I wish I had never counted them and nobody else had either.

You can still buy books at the Strand; they are legion down there and also there is a rare books section. I hope the Strand under Fred and his devoted daughter Nancy will go on forever selling books and literature you can actually hold in your hand! Happy Birthday, Fred!

IT IS unlikely to happen, but stranger things have -- the returns of "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," for example. I do mean the high-intensity campaign to bring back Showtime's "The Borgias" for at least a suitable two-hour finale or -- as HBO's "The Big C" did -- four hour-long episodes that wrap things up. The "Borgias" finale was rushed and sudden; very much (and obviously) patched together. Clearly, they were anticipating another season.

There are any number of campaigns and petitions complaining to Showtime and the series' creator Neil Jordan. Go online and type in "Save the Borgias" or "Bring Back the Borgias" and you'll find a variety of outraged outlets and ways to make your displeasure known.

THE DEATH of photographer Bert Stern arouses a mixed bag of responses from Marilyn Monroe fans. It was Stern who took more than 3,000 pictures of Monroe in what became known as "The Last Sitting." Many are lovely. Many are not. He eventually published every single shot, even the ones she had rejected and Stern did absolutely no retouching on the 36-year-old star -- whom he encouraged to undress and drink. Stern pretty much lived off the fame of that 1962 session for the rest of his life.

Still, the black-and-white fashion shots he took of Marilyn Monroe are brilliant, ravishing and demonstrate how beautifully she might have transitioned to maturity, had she lived.

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)