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Who is Marlee Matlin, actress on Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry?

Marlee Matlin with her long-time friend and mentor Henry Winkler. Pic: @themarleematlin/Instagram

Marlee Matlin appears on Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry tonight — with a reading in which her departed father helps explain her deafness.

Marlee’s face might be familiar, but how much do you know about the actress?

Born in 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby and Donald Matlin, Marlee was the third child in her family — she has two older brothers, Eric and Marc.

Marlee was raised in a Reform Jewish household; her family is from Poland and Russia.

At 18 months old, Marlee lost 80 per cent of the hearing in her left ear and all of the hearing in her right ear.

She is not entirely sure what caused the hearing loss, but believes it could have been due to a genetically malformed cochlea.

She is appearing on Hollywood Medium because she has had several different stories about its cause, and wants to find out the truth once and for all.

Her disability obviously presented specific challenges, but Marlee went to a synagogue for the deaf when she was younger and successfully studied Hebrew phonetically, enabling her to learn her Torah portion for her Bat Mitzvah.

In her autobiography, I’ll Scream Later, Marlee describes being molested, at the age of 11, by her babysitter, as well as by one of her high-school teachers.

Her autobiography also describes her drug abuse and how she checked herself into the Betty Ford Center. She also documents her fiery relationship with actor William Hurt.

Marlee’s acting career started at a very young age. Her first stage appearance, at the age of 7, was as Dorothy in an International Center on Deafness and the Arts (ICODA) production of The Wizard of Oz.

The great Henry Winkler saw her talent and this led to a role in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God, a film which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress.

She is the only deaf actress ever to have won the award.

Marlee with her Academy Award for Children of a Lesser God. Pic: @themarleematlin/Instagram

Marlee made an appearance on Sesame Street some two years later alongside Billy Joel, who later asked her to appear in his music video for We Didn’t Start the Fire.

In 1994, Marlee starred in Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story, in which she played the role of a hearing woman for the first time. Her performance won her a CableACE Nomination as Best Actress.

A Golden Globe nomination followed for her role in TV series Reasonable Doubts, while she was also nominated for an Emmy Award for a guest appearance in Picket Fences.

More recently, you could have seen Marlee in Blue’s Clues, ER, The Practice, and The West Wing.

2002 saw Marlee publish her first novel, Deaf Child Crossing, which was loosely based on her childhood. The sequel, Nobody’s Perfect, came out soon after.

Marlee is involved with a number of charities, including the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, and VSA.

She also took part in The Celebrity Apprentice, in which she raised more money for charity than had ever been raised before in one event on TV; an amazing $986,000!

Marlee married Kevin Grandalski in 1993 (at Henry Winkler’s house!) and they have four children together.

Hollywood Medium With Tyler Henry airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on E!


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