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|Birthdate:||August 24, 1965(age 51)|
Marlee Bethany Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American actress. She is the youngest woman and the only deaf actress to date to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won at age 21 for Children of a Lesser God. Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations, and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 2 years old, she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf.
Matlin was born in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers, Eric and Marc. She lost all hearing in her right ear and 80% of the hearing in her left ear at the age of 2. In her autobiography, I'll Scream Later, she suggests that her hearing loss may have been due to a genetically malformed cochlea. She also indicated that she is the only member of her family who is deaf. She is of Russian Jewish descent. She was able to have her Bat Mitzvah by learning Hebrew phonetically; she was later interviewed for the book Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories. Matlin graduated from John Hersey High School in nearby Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.
Matlin made her stage debut at the age of seven, as Dorothy in a children's theatre (ICODA) version of The Wizard of Oz, and continued to appear with the ICODA children's theatre group throughout her childhood. Her discovery by Henry Winkler during one of her ICODA theater performances ultimately led to her film debut in Children of a Lesser God (1986).
That film brought her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress. She is one of the few actors to win an Oscar for their debut performance, and as of 2011, still holds the record for youngest winner in the Best Actress Oscar category. In 1989, she played a deaf widow in Bridge to Silence. Matlin was nominated for a Golden Globe award for her work as the lead female role in the television series Reasonable Doubts (1991–1993) and was nominated for an Emmy Award for a guest appearance in Picket Fences. She became a regular on the series during its final season.
She portrayed Carrie Buck in the television drama Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story (1994) based on the United States Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell 274 U.S. 200 (1927). In the movie, Matlin played a hearing woman for the first time and earned a CableACE Nomination as Best Actress.
Marlee appeared during the 20th season of Sesame Street with Billy Joel, and as Joel played his song Just the Way You Are to Oscar the Grouch, Marlee sang the song.
Matlin later had recurring roles in The West Wing, and Blue's Clues. Other television appearances include Seinfeld("The Lip Reader"), The Outer Limits ("The Message"), ER, Desperate Housewives, CSI: NY and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest appearances in Seinfield, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice.
In 2002, Matlin published her first novel, Deaf Child Crossing, which was loosely based on her own childhood.
In 2004, she starred in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? as Amanda. She also hosted the 3rd annual Festival for Cinema of the Deaf in Chicago, October 15–18, 2004.
In 2006, Matlin was honored at AOL's Second Annual Chief Everything Officer Awards. She joined the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday, September 17, 2006. In the episode featuring a deaf boy with a blind father, grandmother and sisters, she was the guest host. She wrote and published a sequel to Deaf Child Crossing, titled Nobody's Perfect, which was produced on stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in partnership with VSA arts in October 2007.
Also in 2006, she played a deaf parent in Desperate Housewives. She also had a recurring role as Joy Turner's (who made many jokes of Marlee's deafness at her expense) public defender in My Name Is Earl and played the mother of one of the victims in an episode of CSI: NY. She starred in the Baby Einstein videos Baby's Favorite Places: First Words-Around Town and Baby Wordsworth: First Words Around the House, both of which were designed to introduce sign language as a form of non-verbal communication.
In 2006, Matlin was cast in season 4 of The L Word as Jodi Lerner, a gay deaf sculptor. She appeared in season 4 (2007), season 5 (2008) and season 6 (2009) as the girlfriend of one of the show's protagonists Bette Porter (played by Jennifer Beals).
On February 4, 2007, Matlin performed the "Star Spangled Banner" in American Sign Language at Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida. She again starred in Baby Einstein in March 2007 with "My First Signs", which introduced sign language using common words such as "mommy" and "milk." She also appeared on Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron as emcee.
In January 2008, she appeared on Nip/Tuck as a television executive.
On February 18, 2008, it was announced that Matlin would participate as a competitor in the sixth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Her dance partner was newcomer Fabian Sanchez. Matlin and Sanchez were eliminated from the competition in 7th place.
On July 13, 2008, Matlin participated in the Taco Bell All Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game as part of All-Star Weekend activities at Yankee Stadium. Matlin scored a run and had 2 RBI for the National League team.
On May 6, 2009, Matlin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On November 8, 2009, Matlin appeared on Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, hosted by Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein. After Borstein imitated Matlin calling MovieFone and singing "Poker Face", Matlin herself appeared and launched into a comical tirade against Borstein over being made fun of, and how she was not invited to provide her own voice for Family Guy.
In 2010, Matlin produced a pilot for a reality show entitled "My Deaf Family" which she presented to various national network executives. Although they expressed interest, no network purchased rights to the show for ongoing production. On March 29, 2010, Matlin uploaded the pilot to YouTube and launched a viral marketing campaign.
She was a finalist on the NBC show The Celebrity Apprentice, competing to win money for her charity, The Starkey Hearing Foundation. She lost the finale to John Rich, finishing in second place. However, on one episode of The Celebrity Apprentice ("The Art of the Deal" aired on April 3, 2011), Matlin raised more funds than had ever been raised for charity in a single event on any television show before ($986,000). Donald Trump then donated an additional $14,000 to make the contribution an even million. The money was donated to Matlin's charity of choice, The Starkey Hearing Foundation.
Matlin is actively involved with a number of charitable organizations, including Easter Seals (where she was appointed an Honorary Board Member), the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA arts, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet. She was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week.
Matlin received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Gallaudet University in 1987. In October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.
Matlin has been close friends with actress Jennifer Beals since they met in an airport in the 1980s.
Matlin met William Hurt during the screen test process for "Children of a Lesser God". This caused her to drop her current boyfriend and begin a two year relationship with Hurt.
After winning the 1986 Academy Award for Best Actress, Matlin returned to the Oscars to present the 1987 Academy Award for Best Actor. After signing her introduction in ASL, she spoke aloud the "names of the nominees" and of Michael Douglas, the winner.
Matlin married Burbank police officer Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993 in Henry Winkler's front yard. They met while she was filming a scene from Reasonable Doubts outside the studio grounds, the police department having assigned Grandalski to provide security and control traffic. They have four children: Sarah Rose, born January 19, 1996; Brandon Joseph, born September 12, 2000; Tyler Daniel, born July 18, 2002; and Isabelle Jane, born December 26, 2003. The family lives outside Los Angeles.
On April 14, 2009, Matlin released an autobiography, I'll Scream Later. In it she describes her drug abuse and how it drove her to check herself in to the Betty Ford clinic. She also wrote about her rocky, two-year relationship with actor William Hurt, who she claims was physically abusive to her and abused drugs during that time. About her time with Hurt she stated: "I was so wrapped up in his world and my drugs. The drugs took over my life, took over my brain."[ She also addresses the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her babysitter.