Marlee Beth Matlin was born on August 24, 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois. When she was 18 months old, she became deaf from German measles. This left her completely deaf in her right ear and 80 percent deaf in her left ear.
She started her acting career at the age of seven. She joined the Children's Theatre of the Deaf in DesPlaines, Illinois at 8 years old and played the part of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." Her love of acting grew when she went to camp, went on stage, signed a song, and saw the audience smiling and applauding. She was hooked. But was acting her first choice for a career? No. Marlee wanted to become a cop and study law. She studied Criminal Justice at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.
Her first role in a play, as an adult, was a supporting character in a production of "Children of a Lesser God." Director Randa Haines saw her and cast her in the lead for the film adaptation. Her performance won her the Best Actress Oscar in 1986. She was the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award.
Marlee continues to keep busy acting in movies and on television and has been a producer on several projects as well. She has also written a book, "Deaf Child Crossing". She is also a spokesperson for the National Captioning Institute.
In addition to her successful career, Marlee enjoys her challenging role of wife and mother of 4 children. During a student assembly at ASD, Marlee stressed the importance of education and concluded with these two of her favorite; "The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth " and "Silence is the last thing in the world will ever hear from me". Now that you've learned a little about Marlee from a student's written recollection of her visit. You can learn even more from her website www.marleematlinsite.com.