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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

Marlee Matlin

Lots of people suffer hearing loss. Perhaps as many as 10 percent of the population don’t hear well or at all; therefore, it’s important to see that it’s a circumstance, not excuse in our lives. To that end, we offer examples of famous deaf people who have made the grade, examples of people who have met the challenge of their hearing difficulties and surmounted them.

The information comes from various sources, in this case mostly from fellow Midwesterner Marlee Matlin’s own website,

Notable Moments

  • Won 1987 Academny Award for Best Actress for film Children of a Lesser God.
  • Recent publication of her book, Caution: Deaf Child Crossing.

Films include Kiss My Act (2001), Gideon’s Crossing (2001 - TV), Where the Truth Lies (1999).

Matlin is likely the best known actress who is Deaf in Hollywood. Born Deaf, she grew up in Chicago, then hit it big early, receiving world-wide acclaim for her motion picture debut in Children of a Lesser God, a performance the film community recognized in 1987 with its highest honor — the Academy Award for Best Actress. At age 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut. In addition to the Oscar, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored Marlee with the 1986 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama.

Born and raised in Morton Grove, Illinois, Marlee started acting at the age of seven in the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at a children’s theatre company in Chicago. After several years of performing on stage throughout Chicago and the Midwest, Marlee was discovered in a Chicago stage production of Mark Medoff’s Tony Award-winning play, Children of a Lesser God. Following an extensive international search for the lead role of Sarah Norman, the producers of the film version selected her to star opposite William Hurt.

Since that time, Marlee has appeared in a dozen more films, and has starred or guest-starred in a number of television shows, including Spin City, ER, Gideon’s Crossing, Judging Amy, and The West Wing. She was twice nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Dramatic Television Series; she has also been nominated for a People’s Choice Awards for her performance in the NBC series Reasonable Doubts, opposite Mark Harmon. Likewise, she has been nominated for a number of Emmy awards for her guest performances on NBC’s Seinfeld, CBS’s Picket Fences, and ABC’s The Practice. And Marlee has ventured into children’s television on Nickelodeon’s Blues Clues, in which she teaches sign language and has a recurring role as “Marlee the librarian.”

In addition to acting, Marlee has been busy with a number of other pursuits. She was the Executive Producer for the Lifetime Television thriller Where the Truth Lies, was appointed by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in 1994 to the Board of Directors for the Corporation for National Service, and in 1995 served as Chairperson for National Volunteer Week. Marlee was instrumental in getting federal legislation passed to require all televisions be equipped with close captioning technology; she currently serves as the national spokesperson for VITAC, the largest provider of television closed captioning for the hearing impaired. Matlin serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations including VSA Arts, the Starlight Foundation, and Victory Over Violence. In addition, she has just completed a children’s novel, Caution: Deaf Child Crossing, which will be published by Simon and Schuster in 2002.

Marlee makes her home in the greater Los Angeles area. She and her husband, law enforcement officer Kevin Grandalski, welcomed their first child, Sarah Rose, in 1996, their second child, Brandon Joseph, in 2000 and thier third child, Tyler Daniel, in 2002.

Other links of interest:

Mom of the Month, Marlee Matlin:

Marlee Matlin honored for helping children in 2004. Read more.....

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