Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin
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 Bethany Matlin
August 24, 1965 (1965-08-24) (age 46)
Morton Grove, Illinois, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse Kevin Grandalski
Children 4 (two sons and two daughters)

Marlee Bethany Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American actress. She is the only deaf actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won for Children of a Lesser God.[1] 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 18 months old,[2] she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf.


Early life

Matlin was born in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer.[3][4] 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 18 months. In her autobiography, I'll Scream Later, she suggests that her hearing loss may have been due to a genetically malformed cochlea.[5] She also indicated that she is the only member of her family who is deaf. She is of Russian Jewish descent.[6][7] 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.[8] Matlin graduated from John Hersey High School in nearby Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.[9]

In her autobiography I'll Scream Later (chapter 11), she also speaks of her two instances of child molestation - the first by her babysitter at the age of 11, and by her teacher in high school.[10]


Matlin made her stage debut at the age of seven, as Dorothy in a children's theatre (ICODA) version of The Wizard of Oz,[11] and continued to appear with the ICODA children's theatre group throughout her childhood.[citation needed] 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).[citation needed] That film brought her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress.

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.[citation needed] 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).[citation needed] 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 the TV series, Sesame Street, with Billy Joel, and as Joel played his song Just the Way You Are to Oscar the Grouch, Marlee sang the song.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] She was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest appearances in Seinfeld, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice.[citation needed]

In 2002, Matlin published her first novel, Deaf Child Crossing, which was loosely based on her own childhood.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In 2006, Matlin was honored at AOL's Second Annual Chief Everything Officer Awards.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In January 2008, she appeared on Nip/Tuck as a television executive.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

On May 6, 2009, Matlin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[12]

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.[citation needed] 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.[13]

She was a finalist on the NBC show The Celebrity Apprentice, competing to win money for her charity, The Starkey Hearing Foundation,[14] 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). [15] Donald Trump then donated an additional $14,000 to make the contribution an even million.[15] The money was donated to Matlin's charity of choice, The Starkey Hearing Foundation.[15]

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 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.[16] She was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week.[citation needed]

Matlin received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Gallaudet University in 1987.[17][18][19] In October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.[19]

Matlin attended the 1987 Oscars to present the Academy Award for Best Actor.[20] After signing her introduction in ASL, she spoke aloud the "names of the nominees" and of Michael Douglas, the winner.[20]

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.[21] She also addresses the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her babysitter.[22][23]


Matlin had a 2-year relationship with William Hurt.[24]

Matlin married Burbank police officer Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993, in Henry Winkler's front yard.[citation needed] They had 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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
1991-1993 Reasonable Doubts Tess Kaufman 44 episodes

Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1992)

Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1993)

1993 Hear No Evil Jillian Shanahan
Seinfeld Laura The Lip Reader (Season 5 Episode 6)

Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (1994)

1993-1996 Picket Fences Mayor Laurie Bey 13 episodes

Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (1994)

Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1996)

1994 Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story Carrie Buck

Nominated - CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series

1996 It's My Party Daphne Stark
Snitch Cindy
1997 The Larry Sanders Show Herself The Book (Season 5 Episode 10)
Spin City Sara Irman Deaf Becomes Her (Season 1 Episode 20)
1998 When Justice Fails Katy Wesson
In Her Defense Jane Claire
1999 Freak City Cassandra
1999–2006 The West Wing Josephine "Joey" Lucas 17 episodes
2000 The Practice Sally Berg Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2000)
Two Shades of Blue Beth McDaniels
2001 Askari Paula McKinley
2004 What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? Amanda
2005 Desperate Housewives Alisa Stevens There Won't Be Trumpets (Season 1 Episode 17)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Amy Solwey Painless (Season 5, Episode 22) & Parts (Season 6, Episode 22)

Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2004)

2006 What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole Amandah
CSI: NY Mrs. Mitchum Silent Night (Season 3 Episode 12)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Herself Guest star in Family Llanes (Season 3 Episode 67)
2007–2009 The L Word Jodi Lerner 29 episodes
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
2011 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Julia Holden "The Two Mrs. Grissoms" with Jorja Fox and Phyllis Frelich (Season 11 episode 13)
2011 The Celebrity Apprentice Herself
2011 Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump Herself
2011 Switched at Birth Melody Bledsoe


  1. ^ "Shoshannah Stern — Ready for Prime Time" Ability Magazine
  2. ^ Matlin, Marlee, I'll Scream Later, New York: Simon and Schuster, c2009, pp. 3.
  3. ^ Marlee Matlin. Film
  4. ^ Marlee Matlin genealogy.
  5. ^ Matlin, Marlee, I'll Scream Later, New York: Simon and Schuster, c2009, pp. 21–22.
  6. ^ Marlee Beth Matlin roots[dead link]
  7. ^ Schleier, Curt. No challenge goes unmet for deaf actress Marlee Matlin. Jewish News Weekly. January 19, 2007.
  8. ^ "Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories" review at Amazon
  9. ^ Heidemann, Jason A. Vital signs. Time Out October 4, 2007.
  10. ^ Matlin, Marlee, I'll Scream Later, New York: Simon and Schuster, c2009, pp. 56-61.
  11. ^ Posted by 4HL on August 18, 2006 5:38 AM (2006-08-18). ""A gateway to arts for the deaf", August 18, 2006". Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  12. ^ "Marlee Matlin receives Walk of Fame star" May 6, 2009, The Los Angeles Independent
  13. ^ "Marlee Matlin Launches ''My Deaf Family'' on YouTube". 2010-03-31. Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  14. ^ Video at
  15. ^ a b c "SignTalk Joins Fundraiser for Marlee Matlin's Cause..." Published: 2011-05-12, Disabled
  16. ^ Marlee Matlin, The Gift of Silence: A Conversation with Marlee Matlin. Voices April 4, 2007.
  17. ^ "''Transcript of honorary degree ceremony at Gallaudet''" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  18. ^ "''Photo in 1987 Gallaudet Tower Clock yearbook''" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  19. ^ a b Profile: Marlee Matlin. Gallaudet University. Access date: December 26, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Marlee Matlin, Betsy Sharkey (2009). I'll Scream Later. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1-4391-7151-3. 
  21. ^ William Hurt (2009-04-14). "William Hurt to Marlee Matlin: "I Apologize for Any Pain I Caused"". Retrieved 2011-10-29. 
  22. ^ Marlee Matlin website[dead link]
  23. ^ "Marlee Matlin: Baby sitter's abuse led to life of drugs, violence." CNN. April 14, 2009.
  24. ^ I'll Scream Later.

External links

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  • Matlin — Marlee Matlin (2007) Marlee Beth Matlin (* 24. August 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois) ist eine US amerikanische Schauspielerin. Sie erhielt 1987 im Alter von 21 Jahren den Oscar (beste Hauptdarstellerin). Marlee Matlin ist seit ihrer frühen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • MATLIN, MARLEE — (1965– ), U.S. actress. Born in Morton Grove, Illinois, Matlin lost most of her hearing at 18 months after a bout with measles. She learned English, Hebrew, and   sign language at Chicago s Congregation Bene Shalom / Hebrew Association for the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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