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This is about the actress. For the political professional, see Mary Matalin.
Marlee Matlin

Matlin receiving a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May 2009
Born Marlee Beth Matlin
August 24, 1965 (1965-08-24) (age 44)
Morton Grove, Illinois,
United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Kevin Grandalski (1993-present)
Domestic partner(s) William Hurt (1985-1986)

Marlee Beth Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American actress. Deaf since she was 18 months old, she is the youngest woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won at the age of 21 for Children of a Lesser God.


Early life

Matlin was born in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer.[1][2] She has two older brothers, Eric and Marc. She is Jewish.[3] She lost all hearing in her right ear and 80% of the hearing in her left ear at the age of eighteen months. Matlin graduated from John Hersey High School in nearby Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.[4] Her hearing loss was a result of Roseola.[5]


Matlin made her stage debut at the age of seven, as Dorothy in a children's theatre (ICODA) version of The Wizard of Oz[6], 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 2009, still holds the record for youngest winner in the Best Actress Oscar category. 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.

Marlee appeared during the 20th season of Sesame Street with Billy Joel, as she signed as Joel played his song Just the Way You Are to Oscar the Grouch.

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, 15 October - 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, 17 September 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.

Matlin at the 2007 Texas Book Festival promoting one of her children's books.

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.

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 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.

Dancing with the Stars Performances

Week # Dance/Song Judges' score Result
Inaba Goodman Tonioli
1 Cha-cha-cha/ "Get on Your Feet" 7 7 8 N/A
2 Quickstep/ "Mack the Knife" 8 8 8 Safe
3 Jive/ "You May Be Right" 7 7 7 Safe
4 Viennese Waltz/ "She's Always a Woman" 8 8 8 Safe
5 Samba/ "Samba Hey" 7 7 8 Safe
6 Mambo/ "Mi Tierra" 7 7 7 Eliminated

Personal life

Matlin is actively involved with a number of charitable organizations, including the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA arts, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet.[7] 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.[8][9][10] In October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.[10]

Matlin has been close friends with actress Jennifer Beals since they met in an airport in the 1980s.[11]

Matlin married Burbank police officer Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993 in Henry Winkler's back 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: Sara Rose, born January 19, 1995; 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 speaks about her rocky, two-year relationship with actor William Hurt, who she alleges was physically abusive to her and abused drugs during that time. She also addresses sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of a babysitter.[12][13]

Filmography and awards

Year Film Role Notes
1986 Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman Academy Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1987 Walker Ellen Martin
1991 The Linguini Incident Jeanette
L'Homme au masque d'or María
Grand Canyon Deaf Woman (Uncredited)
1993 Hear No Evil Jillian Shanahan
Reasonable Doubts Tess Kaufman Golden Globe two-time nominee (1992, 1993) for "Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama"
Seinfeld Laura Only one episode The Lip Reader (Episode 70 Season 5)
1996 It's My Party Daphne Stark
Snitch Cindy
1998 When Justice Fails Katy Wesson
In Her Defense Jane Claire
1999-2006 The West Wing Josephine "Joey" Lucas
2000 Two Shades of Blue Beth McDaniels
2001 Askari Paula McKinley
2004 What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? Amanda
2005 Desperate Housewives Alisa Stevens Only one episode There Won't Be Trumpets (Season 1 Episode 17)
2006 What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole Amanda
CSI: NY Mrs. Mitchum Only one episode Silent Night (Season 3 Episode 12)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Herself Guest star in Family Llanes (episode 67 season 3)
2007 The L Word Jodi Lerner
My Name Is Earl Ruby Whitlow
2008 Sweet Nothing in My Ear Laura Miller TV film
2009 Silent Knights Charlotte Manning (pre-production)
2009 Seth & Alex's Comedy Show Herself (TV Special) defending herself against Family Guy satire


External links

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