Marlee Matlin was born August 24, 1965, and within eighteen months after her birth she had lost most of her hearing. This did not stop her from overachieving and surpassing most people’s lifetime goals.
Marlee is of Russian Jewish descent. She was Bat Mitzvahed and learned to read Hebrew phonetically.
She studied criminal justice at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois while continuing to act on stage. She debuted in the film “Children of a Lesser God” at the age of 21 and won an Academy Award to Best Actress. She is the only deaf actress to achieve this honor.
During the filming of the movie she met William Hurt and had a two year relationship with him. It was during this time with Hurt that Marlee became dependant on drugs. She checked herself into the Betty Ford clinic for treatment.
While filming her next movie, “Walker”, she took time out from her work to visit local children who were hearing impaired. She continued to visit and encourage deaf children all over the world.
Her credits now include “Sesame Street”, “ER”, “Desperate Housewives”, “CSI:NY”, “The West Wing”, “Seinfeld”, and more.
Marlee married a police officer, Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993 in Henry Winkler’s (The Fonz) yard. They met while Marlee was filming “Reasonable Doubts”, and he was on security patrol. They have four children together.
Marlee is a spokesperson for the National Captioning Institute and in 1995 she helped pass a law that requires all TV sets 13 inches or larger to be manufactured with built in chips that provide Closed Captioning on their screens. She is the national spokesperson for the largest provider of TV Closed Captioning and a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf. She is also involved with Easter Seals, the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, VSA Arts, and more.
In 2008 Marlee participated on “Dancing With the Stars”, and in 2009 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was also a finalist on “The Celebrity Apprentice”, where she raised $986,000 for The Starkey Hearing Foundation, and Donald Trump added another $14,000 to make the donation one million dollars.