Marlee Matlin is an Academy Award winning American Actress and author. She has been deaf since she was 18 months old, she is also a prominent member of the Deaf community and supports the use of sign language, closed captioning, and is an active member of the National Association of the Deaf.
Marlee Beth Matlin was born on August 24, 1965, in Morton Grove, Illinois. Her mother, Libby, was a jewelry sales woman and her father, Donald, operated a used car dealership. Marlee is the youngest of three children and is the only member of her family who is Deaf. She is of Russian Jewish decent and was able to have her Bat Mitzvah by learning Hebrew phonetically.
As Matlin recounts in her autobiography, I’ll Scream Later, growing up, her parents expressed a concern that her deafness would be an insoluble barrier in a hearing world. But instead of agonizing over this, her parents faced it head on and embraced it. They sent Matlin to schools where she learned to both speak and sign, and encouraged her to make friends in the neighborhood. With strong support from her family, Marlee’s childhood world was unlimited.
Matlin made her stage debut at the age of 7, as Dorothy in the ICODA (International Center for Deafness and the Arts) version of The Wizard of Oz. Matlin maintained a passion for acting throughout her childhood and while earning her degree in Criminal Justice at Harper College. At the age of 20, during a performance in the Midwest, Matlin caught the eye of American actor, director, and producer Henry Winkler and was cast for the lead role in Children of a Lesser God (1986). This film brought her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress, making her both the youngest and the only deaf actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She learned of her Oscar nomination while receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem while in an abusive...