Henner, Marilu 1952-
HENNER, Marilu 1952-
PERSONAL: Born April 6, 1952, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Joe (a car dealer), and Loretta (a dance instructor) Henner; married Frederic Forrest (an actor), September 28, 1980 (divorced, 1982); married Rob Lieberman (a television film producer and director), 1990; children: (second marriage) Nicholas Morgan, Joseph Marlin. Education: Attended University of Chicago.
ADDRESSES: Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
CAREER: Television, film, and stage actress and author. Principal television appearances include Taxi, 1978-83, Evening Shade, 1990, and Marilu, 1994. Film roles include Between the Lines, 1977, Bloodbrothers, 1978, Dream House, 1981, Hammett, 1983, The Man Who Loved Women, 1983, Johnny Dangerously, 1984, Mister Roberts, 1984, Cannonball Run II, 1984, Rustlers' Rhapsody, 1985, Stark, 1985, Perfect, 1985, Grown Ups, 1985, Love with a Perfect Stranger, 1986, Grand Larceny, 1987, Lady Killers, 1988, L.A. Story, 1991, Andy Kaufman: I'm from Hollywood, 1992, Noises Off, 1992, Chains of Gold, 1992, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, 1993, Chasers, 1994, Fight for Justice: The Nancy Conn Story, 1995, For the Children: The Irvine Fertility Scandal, 1996, My Son Is Innocent, 1996, Titanic, 1996, Batman and Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero, 1998, The Titanic Chronicles, 1999, Man on the Moon, 1999, A Tail of Two Bunnies, 2000, Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel, 2000, Rocket's Red Glare, 2000, and Enemies of Laughter, 2000. Actress in plays, including Grease, 1973, Over Here, 1974, Social Security, 1987, Chicago, 1997, Annie Get Your Gun, 2000, and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, 2002.
AWARDS, HONORS: Five Golden Globe nominations for best actress in a comedy series, for Taxi.
(With Jim Jerome) By All Means Keep on Moving, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Laura Morton) Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover: Ten Steps to Your B.E.S.T. Body: Balance, Energy, Stamina, Toxin-Free, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Morton) The Thirty-Day Total Health Makeover, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Ruth Velikovsky Sharon) I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in the Age of Overindulgence, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Lorin Henner) Healthy Life Kitchen, Regan-Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Lorin Henner) Healthy Kids: Help Them Eat Smart and Stay Active—for Life!, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 2001.
Healthy Holidays: Total Health Entertaining All Year Round, ReganBooks (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Perhaps best known for her role as Elaine Nardo in the hit comedy series Taxi, which ran from 1978 to 1983, Marilu Henner has had a successful acting career in a wide variety of media; these include film, television situation comedies and dramas, stage musicals, and her own talk show, Marilu. It is difficult to find a review of Henner's acting that does not note her energy and likability, qualities she also manifests in her line of books on health and parenting. Good Housekeeping contributor Joanna Powell noted: "Since the publication of her first best-selling book, Total Health Makeover, … Henner's credentials as actress, dancer, and perennial talk-show guest have been eclipsed by her success as a bankable self-help author." Indeed, Henner continues to perform on stage and in films with a vitality that surpasses her considerable vigor during the 1980s, creating a market for her suggestions on how to stay fit and healthy.
Henner seemed destined for acting from an early age; most notably, at age eighteen she played Marty in a local production of Grease, and two years later she left college to tour with the show's national company. Henner's life was eventually marked by sadness when her father died suddenly at the age of fifty-two of a heart attack at a Christmas party. Her mother became ill eight years later with devastating arthritis that damaged her spinal cord and led to circulatory problems. The actress went home to help nurse Loretta Henner during the last four months of her life. Her mother died in May, 1978, at the age of fifty-eight, two weeks before Henner was cast in her career-making role in Taxi.
Henner's autobiography, By All Means Keep on Moving, is notable for the energy of Henner's voice as well as for her candor about her many sexual liaisons with costars over the years. Part of the story of Henner's childhood is the romance she observed between her parents, whom she recalled in an interview for Redbook. She said they were "romantic, lusty, hot for each other. When Dad came home, we would run to wherever my mother was because he would throw her down into a dance-dip position. My mother used to complain that he treated her more like a hundred-dollar hooker than a wife. They were wild." Her autobiography makes clear that Henner inherited her parents' "lust for life."
Most reviews of Henner's autobiography were positive. A critic in Publishers Weekly called the book an "upbeat story of a dynamic woman who keeps on moving no matter what." A Kirkus reviewer remarked on the frank sexuality of the book, quoting a "prose pheromone" from the book's introduction: "I have never apologized for my sexuality….I'm a big fan of sex." Henner, the reviewer continued, "presents herself as Horatio Alger with legs."
As she approached her mid-forties—characteristically a difficult age for Hollywood actresses—Henner continued to be busy with stage and film projects while raising two young sons. More than one reporter noted that she appeared to be more trim at midlife than she was in her twenties, and the actress has capitalized upon this fact and has authored a series of books on how to promote a healthy lifestyle while working and caring for children. Among these bestsellers are Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover: Ten Steps to Your B.E.S.T. Body, Healthy Life Kitchen, and I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence.
Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover and its companion, The Thirty-Day Total Health Makeover, are fitness books based on Henner's own diet, exercise, and health philosophy. She eats an all-natural vegetable diet and avoids dairy, red meat, and refined sugar. Although she engages in formal exercise classes, she is infamous for her suggestion that busy women can lose weight by dancing alone in the house for a mere twenty minutes three or four times per week. Her parenting advice is contained in I Refuse to Raise a Brat, written with psychologist Ruth Velikovsky Sharon. "At first glance, some of Henner's nutritional advice may seem a little left of center, though never quite outrageously unbelievable," noted Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributor Lillian Lee Kim. "But obviously it has worked for her."
Prior to her work in television and film, Henner began her acting career in stage shows, and she has returned to the stage in such roles as Annie Oakley in the touring company of Annie Get Your Gun, Roxie Hart in the Broadway version of Chicago, and the frankly sexual Lee in the Broadway hit The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. As Everett Evans observed in the Houston Chronicle, "There's a palpable excitement around Marilu Henner" as she moves into a new phase of her acting career. The actress told the New York Post that she is motivated by a simple philosophy: "You have one body your entire life, so you better take care of it well."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 17, 1998, Lillian Lee Kim, "Health Watch: Henner Shares Secrets of Youthful Look," p. B3.
Back Stage West, November 30, 2000, Les Spindle, review of Annie Get Your Gun, p. 16.
Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 1994, p. 45.
Good Housekeeping, June, 1999, Joanna Powell, "Marilu Henner," p. 29.
Houston Chronicle, December 21, 2000, Everett Evans, "Hello Marilu," p. 1.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1994, p. 1116.
Newsweek, September 3, 1990, pp. 70-71.
New Yorker, February 11, 1991, p. 74.
New York Post, June 18, 2002, "From Fads and Flab to Fab: Marilu's Tops after Giving up Yo-Yo Ways," p. 38; June 23, 2002, "Bedded Bliss: Marilu Henner Delights in Her Many Affairs," p. 50.
People, September 19, 1994, pp. 187-191.
Publishers Weekly, September 19, 1994, p. 62; September 20, 1999, "Parenting Issues," p. 83.
Redbook, April, 1993, pp. 32-34.
San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 1997, Liz Smith, "Henner's Stepping off to Chicago," p. D11.
Variety, November 11, 1996, p. 34.
Marilu Henner Web site, http://www.marilu.com/ (November 13, 2003).*