Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Marlee Matlin

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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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Lon Chaney Snr.

Lon Chaney Snr. was born on 1 April, 1883 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA and died on 26 August, 1930, nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Faces,” was an American actor during the age of silent films. Lon Chaney Snr. was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema. Lon Chaney Snr. is best remembered for his characterisations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with film makeup.

Lon Chaney Snr. was born Leonidas Frank Chaney  to Frank H. Chaney and Emma Alice Kennedy; his father had mostly English and some French ancestry, and his mother was of Irish descent. Both of Lon Chaney Snr.’s parents were deaf, and as a child of deaf adults Lon Chaney Snr. became skilled in pantomime. Lon Chaney Snr. entered a stage career in 1902, and began traveling with popular Vaudeville and theater acts. In 1905, he met and married 16 year old singer Cleva Creighton and in 1906, their 1st child and only son, Creighton Chaney (a.k.a. Lon Chaney, Jr.) was born. The Chaneys continued touring, settling in California in 1910.

Unfortunately, marital troubles developed and in April 1913, Cleva went to the Majestic Theater in downtown Los Angeles, where Lon Chaney Snr. was managing the Kolb and Dill show, and attempted suicide by swallowing mercury bichloride. The suicide attempt failed and ruined her singing career; the ensuing scandal and divorce forced Lon Chaney Snr. out of the theater and into film.

The time spent there is not clearly known, but between the years 1912 and 1917, Lon Chaney Snr. worked under contract for Universal Studios doing bit or character parts. Lon Chaney Snr’s outstanding skill with makeup gained him many parts in the highly competitive casting atmosphere. During this time, Lon Chaney Snr. befriended the husband-wife director team of Joe De Grasse and Ida May Parke, who gave him substantial roles in their pictures, and further encouraged him to play macabre characters.

Lon Chaney Snr. also married one of his former colleagues in the Kolb and Dill company tour, a chorus girl named Hazel Hastings. Little is known of Hazel, except that her marriage to Lon Chaney Snr. was solid. Upon marrying, the new couple gained custody of Lon Chaney Snr’s 10 year-old son Creighton, who had resided in various homes and boarding schools since Lon Chaney Snr’s divorce in 1913.

By 1917 Lon Chaney Snr. was a prominent actor in the studio, but his salary did not reflect this status. When Lon Chaney Snr. asked for a raise, studio executive William Sistrom replied, “You’ll never be worth more than $100 a week.”

After leaving the studio, Lon Chaney Snr. struggled for the 1st year as a character actor. It was not until 1918 when playing a substantial role in William S. Hart’s picture, Riddle Gawne, that Lon Chaney Snr’s talents as a character actor were truly recognised by the industry.

In 1919, Lon Chaney Snr. had a breakthrough performance as, “The Frog,” in George Loane Tucker’s The Miracle Man. The film not only displayed Lon Chaney Snr.’s acting ability, but his talent as a master of makeup. Critical praise and a gross of over $2 000,000 put Lon Chaney Snr. on the map as America’s foremost character actor.

Lon Chaney Snr. is chiefly remembered as a pioneer in such silent horror films as, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and most notably, The Phantom of the Opera. Lon Chaney Snr.’s ability to transform himself using self-invented makeup techniques earned him the nickname of “Man of a Thousand Faces”. In an autobiographical 1925 article published in Movie magazine that gave a rare glimpse into his life, Lon Chaney Snr referred to his specialty as “extreme characterisation”.

Lon Chaney Snr also exhibited this adaptability with makeup in more conventional crime and adventure films, such as, The Penalty, where he played an amputee gangster. Lon Chaney Snr. appeared in a total of 10 films by director Tod Browning, often playing disguised and/or mutilated characters, including carnival knife thrower Alonzo the Armless in, The Unknown (1927), with Joan Crawford. In 1927, Lon Chaney Snr. co-starred with Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran in the now lost Tod Browning directed horror classic, London After Midnight, quite possibly the most famous lost film ever. Lon Chaney Snr.’s last film was a remake with sound of his silent classic, The Unholy Three (1930), his only “talkie” and the only film in which he displayed his versatile voice. In fact, Lon Chaney Snr. signed a sworn statement declaring that 5 of the key voices in the film (the ventriloquist, old woman, parrot, dummy and girl) were in fact his own.

Although Lon Chaney Snr. created, in Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame, and Erik, the “phantom” of the Paris Opera House, two of the most grotesquely deformed characters in film history, the portrayals sought to elicit a degree of sympathy and pathos among viewers not overwhelmingly terrified or repulsed by the monstrous disfigurements of the characters, who were merely victims of fate.

“I wanted to remind people that the lowest types of humanity may have within them the capacity for supreme self-sacrifice,” Lon Chaney Snr. wrote in Movie magazine. “The dwarfed, misshapen beggar of the streets may have the noblest ideals. Most of my roles since The Hunchback, such as The Phantom of the Opera, He Who Gets Slapped, The Unholy Three, etc., have carried the theme of self-sacrifice or renunciation. These are the stories which I wish to do.”

“He was someone who acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen,” the writer Ray Bradbury once explained. “The history of Lon Chaney Snr. is the history of unrequited loves. Lon Chaney Snr. brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that’s grotesque, that the world will turn away from.”

Lon Chaney Snr.’s talents extended far beyond the horror genre, and stage makeup. Lon Chaney Snr. was also a highly skilled dancer, singer and comedian. In fact, many people who did not know Lon Chaney Snr. were surprised by his rich baritone voice and his sharp comedic skills.

Lon Chaney Snr. and his 2nd wife Hazel led a discreet private life distant from the Hollywood social scene. Lon Chaney Snr did minimal promotional work for his films and MGM studios, purposefully fostering a mysterious image, and he reportedly avoided the social scene in Hollywood on purpose.

In the final 5 years of his film career (1925-1930), Lon Chaney Snr. worked exclusively under contract to MGM, giving some of his most memorable performances. Lon Chaney Snr’.s portrayal of a tough-as-nails marine drill instructor in Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his favorite films, earned him the affection of the US Marine Corps, who made him their first honorary member from the motion picture industry. Lon Chaney Snr. also earned the respect and admiration of numerous up and coming actors, as Lon Chaney Snr. was considered helpful towards new actors, showing them the ropes, and was always willing to talk to the cast and crew about his experiences between takes on films.

During the filming of Thunder in the winter of 1929, Lon Chaney Snr. developed pneumonia. In late 1929 he was diagnosed with bronchial lung cancer. Despite aggressive treatment, his condition gradually worsened, and 7 weeks after the release of the remake of The Unholy Three, he died of a throat hemorrhage. Lon Chaney Snr.’s death was deeply mourned by his family, the film industry and by his fans. The US Marine Corps provided a chaplain and Honor Guard for his funeral. Lon Chaney Snr. was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California, USA next to the crypt of his father. Lon Chaney Snr.’s wife Hazel was also interred there upon her death in 1933. For unknown reasons, Lon Chaney Snr.’s crypt has remained unmarked.

Lon Chaney Snr. as “Mr. Wu,” conducting an orchestra of women.In 1957, Lon Chaney Snr. was the subject of a biopic titled Man of a Thousand Faces, and was portrayed by James Cagney. Though much of the plot was fictional, the film was a moving tribute to Lon Chaney Snr. and helped boost his posthumous fame. During his lifetime, Lon Chaney Snr. had boasted he would make it difficult for biographers to portray his life, saying that “between pictures, there is no Lon Chaney Snr.” This was in line with the air of mystery he purposefully fostered around his makeup and performances.

Lon Chaney Snr. has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1994, he was honored by having his image designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, placed on a United States postage stamp.

The stage theater at the Colorado Springs Civic Auditorium is named after Lon Chaney Snr.

In 1929, Lon Chaney Snr. built an impressive stone cabin in the remote wilderness of the eastern Sierra Nevada, near Big Pine, California, as a retreat. The cabin (designed by architect Paul Williams) still stands, and is preserved by the Inyo National Forest Service.

Lon Chaney Snr.’s son, Lon Chaney, Jr., became a film actor after his father’s death, and is best remembered for roles in horror films, especially The Wolf Man. The Chaneys appeared on US postage stamps as their signature characters, the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolf Man, with the set completed by Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster and The Mummy.

Lon Chaney Snr. and his son Lon Chaney Jnr. are mentioned in the Warren Zevon song “Werewolves of London”.

Many of Lon Chaney Snr.’s colleagues held him in high regard and he would often give advice and help actors who were just beginning their careers. Lon Chaney Snr. was also greatly respected by the film crews and studio employees with whom he worked.

Following his death, Lon Chaney Snr.’s famous makeup case was donated by his wife Hazel to the Los Angeles County Museum, where it is sometimes displayed for the public. Makeup artist and Lon Chaney Snr.’s biographer Michael Blake considers Lon Chaney Snr.’s case the central artifact in the history of film makeup.

In 1978, Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS wrote a song about Lon Chaney Snr. called “The Man of A Thousand Faces” for his first solo album. Simmons had been influenced by the old black and white classic horror movies growing up in New York City.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland was born in 1900. Aaron was the pioneer of American music. Aaron showed the world how to write classical music in an American way. Americans were rarely recognised as composers in the music world so Aaron Copland went to Europe for serious study, and, in the 1920s, wrote pieces with the flavour of jazz. European classical composers were also influenced by jazz at this time, as they were searching for new ways to bring their music into the 20th century.

Aaron Copland’s early works Grohg and Music for the Theatre show jazz influence. Aaron was soon to shed this in favour of strictly classical yet modernist works. With the great depression of the 1930s, when millions of Americans were unable to find work, the appeal of abstract music began to wain. Beginning in 1938, Aaron produced a series of ballets that were to be widely heard and musically influential: Billy the Kid (a ballet about a legendary western outlaw, complete with cowboy songs, commissioned in 1938 by Kirstein for Eugene Loring), Rodeo (another Wild West ballet, about a cowgirl’s search for a man) and Appalachian Spring (commissioned by the choreographer Martha Graham). When World War II began, the Cincinnati Symphony needed a patriotic American hero, and Aaron Copland by now one of the most famous composers in America wrote A Lincoln Portrait. For the same orchestra, he created his noble Fanfare for the Common Man.

Aaron Copland is probably best known for his concert and ballet works, but his eight scores for films, documentaries and versions of plays by Wilder, Steinbeck and others, set new standards for Hollywood. Purists may have criticised such “popular” works, but Aaron Copland’s fine classical ear gave even cowboy songs both extra bite and depth. Aaron’s work provides the musical backdrop for director Spike Lee’s new film for Touchstone Pictures He Got Game, and it is featured on Sony Classical’s original motion picture soundtrack recording from the film (SK 60593), the majority of which is conducted by the composer himself.

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Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte – Harold George Belafonte, Jr. was born on 1 March, 1927.Harry is an American musician, actor and social activist. One of the most successful Jamaican musicians in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style in the 1950s. Due to problems with dyslexia, Belafonte dropped out of high school and at the age of 17, he joined the US Navy for a couple of years. After that, he returned to New York and settled there. Belafonte became involved with the American Negro Theatre and soon began singing in clubs around the city.

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