The Life of Marlee Matlin
Deaf people have made significant contributions in every field, including entertainment. Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin is just one example of the impact that deaf individuals have had on our culture. Her fascinating life is an inspiration both for those who are a part of deaf culture and those who live outside of it.
Matlin was born August 24, 1965, in Illinois. Like many others in the deaf community, Matlin was born with her hearing intact, and she did not suffer deafness until she was 18 months old. She has written that her condition may be due to a malformed cochlea, but the exact cause of her deafness remains undetermined.
As the third child born to the Matlin family, Marlee had several people to look over her as she was growing up. She did not let being deaf hold her back, for she later graduated from John Jersey High School and Harper College.
Matlin is perhaps best known for her Oscar-winning performance in Children of a Lesser God (1986), a film that depicted a romance within the context of deaf education. However, that was not the first time, nor was it the last time, that Matlin would perform. She was one of the few deaf people to take part in children’s theatre, having starred in a theater performance of The Wizard of Oz when she was 7.
After Children of a Lesser God, Matlin went on to play several television roles. This deaf actress was often seen on 1990s television, where she regularly appeared in such shows as Reasonable Doubts and Picket Fences. Guest appearances on shows such as Seinfeld, ER, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit also brought new attention to deaf culture and the deaf community.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Matlin continued to guest star on several popular television programs, including Desperate Housewives and My Name is Earl. Like the real-life actress, the characters she portrayed were also deaf, and they helped to convey a more realistic view of deaf people to the wider public. Matlin has also appeared on several reality shows such as The Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.
Personal Life and Activism
Like many other members of the deaf community, Marlee Matlin has shown a passion not only for deaf education but also for issues that affect people whether they are deaf or not. In addition to being an accomplished writer who has penned several books about her deafness and past struggles with drug addiction, Matlin has also worked with a number of important foundations, including Easter Seals, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Red Cross.
Matlin has been married to a police officer, Kevin Grandalski, since August 1993, and the couple has four children: two girls and two boys. She is devoted to her family and continues to work as an actress.
A Bright Future
Marlee Matlin will no doubt continue to advocate for deaf culture and entertain people all over the world for many decades to come. She is a living example of what people can do when they apply themselves and do not let what others perceive as a handicap get in their way.