Marlee Beth Matlin was born on 24 August, 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois, USA. Marlee is an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress who is deaf.
Marlee was born to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. Marlee lost all hearing in her right ear, and 80% of hearing in her left ear at the age of 18 months. Marlee was raised in a Jewish family in Morton Grove, Illinois, USA. Marlee graduated from John Hersey High School in nearby Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.
Marlee made her stage debut at the age of 7, as Dorothy in a children’s theatre version of The Wizard of Oz, and continued to appear with the same children’s theatre group throughout her childhood.
Marlee’s film debut, 1986’s Children of a Lesser God, brought her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress. Marlee is one of the few actors to win an Oscar for their debut performance, and as of 2008, still holds the record for youngest winner in the Best Actress Oscar category. Marlee 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. Marlee became a regular on the series during its final season.
Marlee 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. Marlee was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest appearances in Seinfield, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice.
In 2002, Marlee published her 1st 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.
In 2006, Marlee was honored at AOL’s 2nd Annual Chief Everything Officer Awards. Marlee 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, Marlee was the guest host. Marlee 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. Marlee 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. Marlee 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 Marlee was cast in season 4 of The L Word as Jodi Lerner, a gay deaf sculptor. Marlee appeared in season 4 (2007) and season 5 (2008) as the girl friend of the show’s main protagonist Bette Porter (played by Jennifer Beals). It is unclear if Marlee will continue in season 6, the show’s final season.
On 4 February, 2007, Marlee performed the Star Spangled Banner in American Sign Language at Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida. Marlee again starred in Baby Einstein in March 2007 with My First Signs, which introduced sign language using common words such as “mommy” and “milk.” Marlee also appeared on Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron as emcee. Though she could not hear and was not encouraged to use her own voice to speak, her personal interpreter Jack Jason (who also appeared with her during talk show and publicity appearances) accompanied her on the panel and she handled questions with his assistance – including offering some humorous quips (in ASL) in her own right.
In January 2008, she appeared on Nip/Tuck as a television executive.
On 18 February, 2008, it was announced that Marlee would participate as a competitor in the 6th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Marlee’s dance partner was newcomer Fabian Sanchez. Marlee and Fabian were eliminated from the competition on 22 April, 2008.
On 13 July, 2008, Marlee participated in the Taco Bell All Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game as part of All-Star Weekend activities at Yankee Stadium. Marlee scored a run and had 2 RBI for the National League team.
Marlee is actively involved with a number of charitable organisations, including the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA arts, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet. Marlee was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week.
Marlee 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.
Marlee has been close friends with actress Jennifer Beals since they met in an airport in the 1980s.
Marlee married law enforcement officer Kevin Grandalski on 29 August, 1993 (in Henry Winkler’s back yard). They have 4 children: Sara Rose, born on 19 January, 1996; Brandon Joseph, born on 12 September 2000; Tyler Daniel, born on 18 July, 2002; and Isabelle Jane, born on 26 December, 2003. Marlee lives in Los Angeles with her family.
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