Marlee Beth Matlin, born August 24, 1965, is a 53-year-old American actress. She is the youngest woman in history and the only deaf performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won for Children of a Lesser God.[1]

Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations, and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 18 months old,[2] she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf.

Personal life

Matlin is actively involved with a number of charitable organizations, including Easter Seals (where she was appointed an Honorary Board Member), the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA arts, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet.[3] She was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week. Matlin was a participant in the first-ever national television advertising campaign supporting donations to Jewish federations. The program featured "film and television personalities celebrating their Jewish heritage and promoting charitable giving to the Jewish community" and included Greg Grunberg, Joshua Malina, Kevin Weisman, and Jonathan Silverman.[4]

Matlin received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Gallaudet University in 1987.[5] In October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.[5] In 1988, Matlin received the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[6]

Matlin attended the 1987 Oscars to present the Academy Award for Best Actor. After signing her introduction in ASL, she spoke aloud the "names of the nominees" and of Michael Douglas, the winner.

On April 14, 2009, Matlin released an autobiography, I'll Scream Later. In it she describes her drug abuse and how it drove her to check herself into Betty Ford Center. She also tells about her rocky, two-year relationship with actor William Hurt, who she claims was physically abusive to her and abused drugs during that time. She also addresses the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her babysitter.[7][8]

Matlin enjoys a sense of humor about her deafness: "Often I’m talking to people through my speaker phone, and after 10 minutes or so they say, 'Wait a minute, Marlee, how can you hear me?' They forget I have an interpreter there who is signing to me as they talk. So I say, 'You know what? I can hear on Wednesdays.'"



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman Academy Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
1987 Walker Ellen Martin
1991 The Linguini Incident Jeanette
1991 Grand Canyon Sign Language Mom
1991 L'Homme au masque d'or María
1993 Hear No Evil Jillian Shanahan
1996 It's My Party Daphne Stark
1996 Snitch Cindy
1998 When Justice Fails Katy Wesson
1998 In Her Defense Jane Claire
1999 Freak City Cassandra
1999 Where The Truth Lies Dana Sue Lacey
2000 Two Shades of Blue Beth McDaniels
2001 Askari Paula McKinley
2004 What the Bleep Do We Know!? Amanda
2006 What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole Amanda
2009 Silent Knights Charlotte Manning
2012 Excision Amber
2013 No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie Marlee Matlin
2014 The One I Love Diner Patron 


Year Title Role Notes
1991-1994 Reasonable Doubts Tess Kaufman 44 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1992-93)
1993 Seinfeld Laura Episode: "The Lip Reader"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
1993-1996 Picket Fences Mayor Laurie Bey 13 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
1994 Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story Carrie Buck Television movie
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series
1997 The Larry Sanders Show Herself Episode: "The Book"
1997 Spin City Sarah Edelman Episode: "Deaf Becomes Her"
1999 ER Sign Language Instructor Episode: "Storm: Part 1"
2000-2006 The West Wing Josephine "Joey" Lucas 17 episodes
2000 The Practice Sally Berg Episode: "Life Sentence"
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2001 Gideon's Crossing Lindsay Warren Episode: "Orphans"
2004-2005 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Amy Solwey 2 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2005 Desperate Housewives Alisa Stevens Episode: "There Won't Be Trumpets"
2006 CSI: NY Mrs. Mitchum Episode: "Silent Night"
2006 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Herself Episode: "Family Llanes"
2006-2007 My Name Is Earl Ruby Whitlow 3 episodes
2007-2009 The L Word Jodi Lerner 29 episodes
2008 Sweet Nothing in My Ear Laura Miller Television movie
2009 Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show Herself Television short
2011-2012 The Celebrity Apprentice Herself 13 episodes
2011 Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump Herself Television movie
2011 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Julia Holden Episode: "The Two Mrs. Grissoms"
2011-present Switched at Birth Melody Bledsoe 19 episodes
2012 Family Guy Stella Episode: "The Blind Side"
2014 Glee Herself Episode: "City of Angels", Nationals judge



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