* 5/8/09 8:00 PM at Barnes & Noble – Grove Drive. Los Angeles, CA.
Marlee Beth Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning 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.
Matlin was born in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers, Eric and Marc. Her family is Jewish.
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.
Matlin made her stage debut at the age of seven, as Dorothy in a children’s theatre (ICODA) version of The Wizard of Oz, 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.
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 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.
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).
In January 2008, she appeared on Nip/Tuck as a television executive.
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.
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. She was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week.Matlin has been close friends with actress Jennifer Beals since they met in an airport in the 1980s.
Matlin married Burbank police officer Kevin Grandalski on August 29, 1993 in Henry Winkler’s back yard. 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. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. Matlin met her future husband while she was filming a scene from “Reasonable Doubts” outside of the studio grounds, and the police department had assigned him to provide security and traffic control.
On April 14, 2009, Matlin released I’ll Scream Later, an autobiography that chronicles her life’s journey. In it, she speaks about her rocky, two-year relationship with actor William Hurt, whom she alleges was physically abusive to her and abused drugs during their two-year relationship. And she also addresses sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a babysitter.