Matlin, Marlee 1965–
MATLIN, Marlee 1965–
Full name, Marlee Beth Matlin; born August 24, 1965, in Morton Grove, IL; daughter of Donald (an automobile dealer) and Libby Matlin; married Kevin Grandalski (a police officer), August 29, 1993; children: Sarah Rose, Brandon Joseph, Tyler Daniel, Isabelle Jane. Education: Studied criminal justice at William Rainey Harper College.
Addresses: Office—Solo One Productions, 8205 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1279, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Agent—International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211; Adena Chawke, Innovative Artists, 1505 10th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401. Manager—Mark Teitelbaum, Teitelbaum Artists Group, 8840 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211; Alan Nevins, Renaissance/The Firm, 9465 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist— Bragman/Nyman/Cafarelli, 9171 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
Career: Actress and producer. Chicago–Area Center on Deafness, Des Plaines, IL, child performer with Children's Theatre of the Deaf; Solo One (production company), Los Angeles, cofounder and producer. Appeared in commercials and in public service announcements for various organizations. Spokesperson for various organizations, including National Captioning Institute and the American Red Cross; chairperson, National Volunteer Week, 1995; member of the board of directors of the Corporation for National Service (overseer for Americorps), 1995—, Very Special Arts (VSA), Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, and Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Starlight Foundation, member of the board of trustees, international and Southern California chapters; affiliated with Children's Museums of Boston, MA, and New Orleans, LA, Special Olympics, United Friends of the Children, Camp Ronald McDonald, Marlee Matlin Deaf Children's Theatre Fund, Big Sisters of Los Angeles, Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, and Amber Swarz–Garcia Foundation. Involved with the "So the World May Hear" campaign; performer of the American national anthem in American Sign Language at Super Bowl XXVII, 1993; participant in benefits and conferences.
Member: Young Artists United.
Awards, Honors: Named one of the "promising new actors of 1986," John Willis' Screen World, 1986; Academy Award, best actress, and Golden Globe Award, best performance by an actress in a motion picture—drama, both 1987, for Children of a Lesser God; Jefferson Award, American Institute for Public Service, greatest public service performed by an individual thirty–five years old or under, 1988; Rose Award, Jewish Home for the Aging of Greater Los Angeles, 1989; Golden Globe Award nominations, best performance by an actress in a television series—drama, 1992 and 1993, and People's Choice Award nominations, favorite actress in a drama, 1992 and 1993, all for Reasonable Doubts; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, 1994, for "Dancing Bandit," Picket Fences; Annual CableACE Award nomination, National Cable Television Association, best actress in a movie or miniseries, 1994, for Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series, 1994, for "The Lip Reader," Seinfeld; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, 2000, for "Life Sentence," The Practice; honored by Starkey Foundation, 2003, for support of "So the World May Hear" campaign; Ribbon of Dreams, Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, 2003; Children's Miracle Achievement Award, Children's Miracle Network, 2004; Victory Award, National Rehabilitation Hospital; Distinctive Service Award, Gallaudet University Alumni Association; Ciak Award; Media Award, Deafness Research Foundation; Women of Achievement Award, Women's Group/Friends of Tel Hashomer; inducted into Governor's Hall of Fame for People with Disabilities, California Department of Rehabilitation; named Mom of the Month by iParenting.com; honorary doctorates from various institutions, including Emerson College, Gallaudet University, and Marymount Manhattan College.
Sarah Norman, Children of a Lesser God, Paramount, 1986.
Ellen Martin, Walker, Universal, 1987.
Jeanette, The Linguini Incident, Rank Films, 1990.
Maria, L'homme au masque d'or (also known as The Man in the Golden Mask and The Man with the Golden Mask), World Marketing Films, 1990.
Herself, The Player, Fine Line, 1992.
Jillian Shanahan, Hear No Evil (also known as Danger Sign), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1993.
Daphne Stark, It's My Party, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1995.
Cindy, Snitch, 1996.
Katy Wesson, When Justice Fails (also known as Hush–A–Bye), Moonstone Entertainment, 1997.
Jane Claire, In Her Defense (also known as In Self Defense), 1998.
Beth McDaniels, Two Shades of Blue, Cutting Edge Entertainment, 2000.
Amanda, What the "$*! Do We Know?! (also known as Sacred Science and What the Fuck Do We Know?), Lord of the Wind, 2004.
(Uncredited) The Last Shot, Buena Vista, 2004.
Television Appearances; Series:
Assistant district attorney Tess Kaufman, Reasonable Doubts, NBC, 1991–1993.
Mayor Laurie Bey, Picket Fences, CBS, 1994–1996.
Josephine "Joey" Lucas, The West Wing, NBC, 2000–2002.
Paula McKinley, Ollie, beginning 2001.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Peggy Lawrence, Bridge to Silence, CBS, 1989.
Carrie Buck, Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story, Lifetime, 1994.
Melanie Charrol, Dead Silence (also known as Silence de mort), HBO, 1997.
Cassandra (Cass), Freak City, Showtime, 1999.
Dana Sue Lacy, Where the Truth Lies (also known as Hollyridge and 90 Days at Hollyridge), Lifetime, 1999.
Casey, Kiss My Act, ABC, 2001.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Herself, Funny, You Don't Look 200: A Constitutional Vaudeville, ABC, 1987.
Herself, Happy Birthday, Hollywood! (also known as Happy 100th Birthday Hollywood), ABC, 1987.
Special Olympics Opening Ceremony Special, ABC, 1987.
All–Star Tribute to Kareem Abdul–Jabbar, NBC, 1989.
Herself, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic, CBS, 1990.
"Robert Wuhl's World Tour," HBO Comedy Hour, HBO, 1990.
The Meaning of Life, CBS, 1991.
Host, "Creating Community," The Creative Spirit, PBS, 1992.
Back to School '92 (also known as Education First!), CBS, 1992.
Herself, Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International, Lifetime, 1992.
In a New Light, ABC, 1992.
Rock the Vote, Fox, 1992.
The Sound and the Silence, TNT, 1993.
The Golden Globe's 50th Anniversary Celebration, NBC, 1994.
The Big Help, Nickelodeon, 1995, 1996.
Host, "People in Motion," Innovation Specials, PBS, 1996.
Face the Hate, Fox, 1996.
All Star Moms, CBS, 1997.
Erase the Hate, USA Network, 1997.
It Just Takes One, USA Network, 1997.
Celebrity Weddings InStyle, Lifetime, 1998.
Herself, The AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Stars, CBS, 1999.
Herself, Against All Odds: AMC's Tribute to Hollywood's Disabled, American Movie Classics, 2000.
The Great American History Quiz: Heroes and Villains, History Channel, 2000.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Herself, The 59th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1987.
Herself, Golden Globe Awards, syndicated, 1987.
Herself, Golden Globe Awards, syndicated, 1988.
Presenter, The 60th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1988.
The American Comedy Awards (also known as The Third Annual American Comedy Awards), ABC, 1989.
The 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Presentation, Fox, 1991.
(In archive footage) The 63rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1991.
Presenter, The 44th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Fox, 1992.
The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.
Presenter, The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1994.
Presenter, The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards, The Disney Channel, 1994.
Presenter, The Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, CBS, 1995.
Presenter, The 16th Annual CableACE Awards, TNT, 1995.
Presenter, Family Film Awards, CBS, 1996.
Herself, The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.
Presenter, The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards, The Disney Channel, 1999.
Herself, The 75th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2003.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
"Episode 77," MMC (also known as The Mickey Mouse Club), The Disney Channel, c. 1990.
Guest, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1991, 1992.
Laura, "The Lip Reader," Seinfeld, NBC, 1993.
Laurie Bey, "The Dancing Bandit," Picket Fences, CBS, 1993.
Jennifer Winter, "The Message," The Outer Limits, Showtime and syndicated, 1995.
Herself, "The Book," The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1997.
Guest, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1997.
Guest host, The Vicki Lawrence Show, 1997.
Sarah Adelman, "Deaf Becomes Her," Spin City (also known as Spin), ABC, 1997.
Herself, Elizabeth Glaser: The E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 1998.
Sign language instructor, "The Storm: Part 1," ER (also known as Emergency Room), NBC, 1998.
Eliza Spears (some sources cite Nancy), "An Impartial Bias," Judging Amy, CBS, 1999.
Teacher, "The Perfect Dog," Chicken Soup for the Soul, PAX TV, 1999.
Sally Berg, "Life Sentence," The Practice, ABC, 2000.
Guest, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2001.
Lindsay Warren, "Orphans," Gideon's Crossing, ABC, 2001.
Marlee the librarian, "Blue's Book Nook," Blue's Clues, Nickelodeon, c. 2002.
Anne Polton, "Testimonial," The Division, Lifetime, 2003.
Herself, "Dynamic Duos Week," The Hollywood Squares, UPN, 2003.
Marlee the librarian, "Our Neighborhood Festival," Blue's Clues, Nickelodeon, 2003.
Dr. Amy Solway, "Painless," Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU and Special Victims Unit), NBC, 2004.
Josephine "Joey" Lucas, "The Benign Prerogative," The West Wing, NBC, 2004.
Herself, "Winners & Losers & Whiners & Boozers: Part 1," I'm with Her, ABC, 2004.
Guest, The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah), syndicated, 2004.
Appeared as April Hare, Adventures in Wonderland, The Disney Channel; and as Brianna Holland, Sweet Justice, NBC. Appeared in episodes of Moonlighting, ABC; and Sesame Street, PBS.
Television Executive Producer; Movies:
Where the Truth Lies (also known as Hollyridge and 90 Days at Hollyridge), Lifetime, 1999.
Eddie's Million Dollar Cook–Off, The Disney Channel, 2003.
Appeared as Lydia, Children of a Lesser God, Immediate Theatre Company, Chicago, IL. Appeared in plays such as Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Nebraska, under the auspices of Children's Theatre of the Deaf, Des Plaines, IL.
"We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel, 1989.
"We Shall Be Free," by Garth Brooks, 1992.
Novels for Children:
Deaf Child Crossing, Simon & Schuster, 2002.
With Lin Oliver, author of the children's novels Leading Ladies and Nobody's Perfect, both Simon & Schuster. Contributor to periodicals, including Guideposts and Reader's Digest.
Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Volume 19, Gale, 1999.
Parade, May 22, 1988.
People Weekly, March 15, 1993, pp. 67–68; April 22, 1996, p. 88; April 8, 2002, pp. 112–13.
US Weekly, October, 1991.
Woman's World, May 22, 2001, pp. 14–15.
Marlee Matlin (born 1965) won an Academy Award for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God in 1987. Just 21 years old, Matlin was the youngest performer ever to receive the "best actress" award, as well as the first hearing-impaired person to be given the honor. Since then, Matlin has performed regularly in films and television, and founded her own production company.
Matlin was born on August 4, 1965 in Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago. She had normal hearing at birth, but contracted roseola (measles) at the age of 18 months. The illness produced a high fever and serious complications, including the loss of most of her hearing. Today, Matlin wears a hearing aid and communicates by reading lips and using sign language. Unlike some hearing-impaired people, Matlin can speak, but relies on an interpreter for business meetings and interviews. "When I was young I knew I was deaf," she told People magazine in 1986. "I couldn't accept it. I was very angry until I did accept it, which wasn't until maybe two years ago."
Her parents, Libby and Donald Matlin, learned sign language, along with her two older brothers, Eric and Marc. "The children in the neighborhood didn't accept her," her mother told Redbook. To help her daughter find a supportive community, Matlin's mother encouraged her to spend free time at Chicago's Center of Deafness, where she began acting in the Children's Theater for the Deaf. At eight years of age, Matlin appeared in productions of The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.
Matlin attended John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, also near Chicago. She was among the first generation of hearing-impaired children to attend public schools rather than institutions for the deaf. The school offered academic programs for the hearing-impaired and Matlin was soon participating in both the hearing and non-hearing worlds. In high school, her interest in acting waned. As she explained in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, "I had no thought of becoming an actress, because I thought there were no opportunities." Instead, Matlin enrolled in Harper Junior College and began to pursue studies in criminal justice, but left feeling that "there wouldn't be enough deaf criminals out there to keep me working." Soon after, a friend encouraged her to audition for the Chicago revival of Mark Medoff's award winning play, Children of a Lesser God. Matlin went reluctantly, and was given the role of Lydia, a minor character. Her performance came to the attention of producers who were casting the film version of the play. When offered this opportunity, Matlin was initially hesitant, afraid of failing: "I said, 'The film version of Children of a Lesser God?' No-no-no-no-no. My mind wasn't open to it. I had no idea how many deaf actors were out there auditioning for the lead role."
Matlin's intense energy and her obvious chemistry with co-star William Hurt won her the role of Sarah Norman, an angry young deaf woman who refuses to speak because the hearing world refuses to sign. Medoff adapted the screenplay from his theater script, which he wrote for Phyllis Frelich, another hearing-impaired actress. The film tells the story of Sarah Norman's encounter with a teacher of the deaf, played by Hurt who, over the course of the film, falls in love with Sarah and learns to respect and appreciate her silent world. Matlin's performance, an entirely non-speaking role, earned her an Academy Award for best actress in 1987. "I think this film will open up the world to hearing-impaired people who are actors and actresses," Matlin said when the film opened. By 1997, Matlin was more realistic: "It's hard to find roles, period, regardless of whether I'm deaf or a woman," she told the New York Post. "My deafness is obviously an added difficulty, but you try to break whatever barriers you can."
The year after her Academy Award triumph, Matlin returned to present the 1988 Best Actor award. She began her presentation by signing with an interpreter, but stopped signing to read the list of nominations aloud; it was the first time Matlin had spoken on camera. She worked diligently with a speech therapist to perfect her presentation, but her effort proved controversial, angering many in the hearing-impaired community who thought Matlin was suggesting that speech was preferable to signing. Though Matlin has found it difficult to please some critics, her work on behalf of the hearing impaired has been a significant part of her professional life. "I'm trying to tell young people that you should give your time to others because there are people out there who really need it … particularly when the government is giving less," she told the Montreal Gazette in 1996. Matlin is spokesperson for the National Captioning Institute and has worked with a number of charitable organizations, including the Pediatric Aids Foundation and the Starlight Foundation.
During rehearsals for Children of a Lesser God, Matlin began a relationship with actor, William Hurt. Soon after filming ended, Matlin left her parents' home in Chicago to live with Hurt in Manhattan. The relationship lasted two years and, by all accounts, it was a volatile one. During this time she had little contact with her family or friends and became increasingly alienated from Hurt. Her self-esteem plummeted in the face of critics who argued that Matlin did not deserve the Academy Award because she was a deaf person playing a deaf person. Matlin's relationship with Hurt ended in 1987. She moved to California and lived, for a time, with Henry Winkler, best known for his role on the television situation comedy "Happy Days," and his wife, Stacey.
Matlin's next few films, Walker in 1988, Bridge to Silence in 1989, Man in the Golden Mask in 1990, and The Linguini Incident in 1991, received little critical attention, though Bridge to Silence marked her debut in a speaking role. In 1991, Matlin turned to series television and landed the starring role of Tess Kaufman in the dramatic series Reasonable Doubts, which ran for two seasons before it was cancelled in 1993. Though she made a guest appearance in a 1990 episode of the popular situation comedy, Seinfeld, Reasonable Doubts offered Matlin the opportunity to develop a significant dramatic role as an assistant district attorney who happens to be hearing impaired. Executive producer Robert Singer had pitched the series to NBC with a hearing actress in mind, but then he met Matlin. "Right after meeting her I knew I wanted her to do it," he recalls. "She has a star quality that's unmistakable," he told the New York Times. In an interview with the Washington Post, Singer called Matlin "remarkable. She can do more saying nothing than most people can talking. … She really will take nuance and direction. You can make subtle adjustments with her and she just gets it. You tell her something and you see this light go on, and the next take, she has it. She has great instincts."
Matlin, the first hearing impaired actor to star in a dramatic television series, relished the new acting challenge. "At first, I could see that the writers were caught off guard," Matlin told the New York Times. "It takes time for people to assimilate ideas about deafness." For courtroom scenes, the writers provided her character with an interpreter; for other scenes Matlin used a combination of sign language and speech, conferring with the writers about what words were easier or more difficult for her to pronounce. She also coached co-star Mark Harmon, whose character needed to be fluent in sign language. Off camera, Matlin's bawdy sense of humor and irrepressible energy charmed the crew. Singer notes that "she has to look at you to know what you're saying. Because she can't inflect with her voice the way other actresses can, she compensates with body language and tremendous facial expression. And that comes across very strong, both on film and in life."
Reasonable Doubts was quite popular with the hearing-impaired community, although Matlin found herself once again caught up in controversy. Her signing wasn't clearly visible in all camera shots, a fact that angered some. Others had even more stringent requirements. "I even got a letter from a guy quite respected in the deaf community. He was worried about the image I present of deaf people. He told me I should stop swearing and I should stop using sexual connotations on my show because, hey, deaf people don't swear, deaf people don't have sex, deaf people don't get involved with violence. Well, there are plenty of deaf people who do, and why can't I represent that? You have to get real sometimes," Matlin told the New York Times.
After a cameo role in Robert Altman's The Player in 1992, Matlin went on to star in Hear No Evil in 1993 and Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story in 1994. In Against Her Will, Matlin played a hearing person for the first time in her career. The film was based on the true story of Carrie Buck, a developmentally challenged woman at the center of a landmark case that, in 1927, was heard by the Supreme Court. Their decision legalized the forced sterilization of such women. Matlin was drawn to Buck's story: "I was proud to portray her because I felt such an amazing instinct to protect her, to represent her in a positive way, while at the same time highlighting such a negative issue," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. Matlin was pleased with her work in the film, particularly because she was able to portray a hearing woman so convincingly.
Matlin returned to episodic television, with a guest appearance on Picket Fences as Laurie Bey, the "dancing bandit." The part earned her an Emmy nomination and Matlin counts it among her favorite roles. From 1992 to 1996, Matlin was a guest star on some of the most popular television shows, including ER, The Larry Sanders Show, Spin City, and The Outer Limits. From 1996 until 1999 she also appeared in a half dozen films: It's My Party, (1996), Dead Silence, (1997), When Justice Fails, (1998), Two Shades of Blue, (1998), and In Her Defense, (1998). A 1999 feature, Freak City, for the Showtime network, was "a cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Awakenings," Matlin told the Mining Co.'s Jamie Berke. In addition, Matlin, along with longtime interpreter Jack Jason, ran Solo One Productions. The company gave Matlin the control and autonomy she needed to pursue her career. Two television projects developed in 1999 were Ninety Days at Hollyridge, for the Lifetime cable network and Isabel Crawford of Saddle Mountain for CBS.
In the fall of 1993, Matlin married Kevin Grandalski, a police officer in Los Angeles. Grandalski learned to sign at Fresno State College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice in 1988. The couple had a baby girl, Sarah Rose, on January 19, 1996. They plan to teach Sarah to speak with her hands as well as with her voice. In 1998, Matlin spoke to an audience about what she has learned from her disability: "The real handicap of deafness is not in the ear but in the mind," she said. "We all have challenges in life of one kind or another. We can achieve much more if we focus on our abilities rather than our perceived disabilities."
Associated Press, January 13, 1997.
Boston Globe, March 22, 1996.
Christian Science Monitor, April 30, 1987.
Gazette, March 17, 1996.
Ladies Home Journal, April 1989.
Los Angeles Times, October 2, 1994; September 22, 1991.
New York Times, January 5, 1992; April 13, 1988.
People, March 15, 1993; November 22, 1993; April 2, 1993;April 10, 1989; October 20, 1986.
Redbook, April 1992.
Star Tribune, May 13, 1998.
U.S. News & World Report, November 10, 1986.
Washington Post, October 11, 1992.
"Marlee Matlin," Miningco.com,http://deafness.miningco.com/library/weekly (August 24, 1998).
"Marlee Matlin: Actress Filmography," Internet Movie Data Base, http://us.imdb.com (March 12, 1999). □
Matlin, Marlee 1965–
Matlin, Marlee 1965–
Born August 24, 1965, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Donald and Libby Matlin; married Kevin Grandalski (a police officer), 1994; children: Sarah Rose, Brandon, Tyler, Isabelle Jane Grandalski. Religion: Jewish.
Office—12300 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 200, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Agent—Spanky Taylor, 3727 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505.
Actor and author. Appeared in films, including Children of a Lesser God, 1986; Walker, 1988; Bridge to Silence, 1989; The Man in the Golden Mask, 1990; The Linguini Incident, 1991; The Player, 1992; Hear No Evil, 1993; Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story, 1994; It's My Party, 1995; Dead Silence, 1996; Freak City, 1998; Where the Truth Lies, 1999; Askari, 2001; and What the
Bleep Do We Know, 2005. Appeared in television programs, including Reasonable Doubts, 1991-93; Seinfeld, 1993; Adventures in Wonderland, 1993; Picket Fences, 1993, 1994-96; Sweet Justice, 1995; People in Motion, 1996; The Larry Sanders Show, 1997; Spin City, 1997; ER, 1998; Judging Amy, 1999; Blue's Clues, 2000-03; The Practice, 2000; Gideon's Crossing, 2001; The Division, 2002; Law and Order: SVU, 2004-05; Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition, 2004, 2006; Desperate Housewives, 2005; The West Wing, 2000-06; CSI: NY, 2006; My Name Is Earl, 2006; and The L Word, 2007. Executive producer of Where the Truth Lies, 1999, and Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-off, 2003. Involved in the production of Baby Einstein DVD series. American Red Cross, spokesperson, 1992; National Volunteer Week, chairperson, 1994.
Academy Award for Best Actress, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, Drama, both 1987, both for Children of a Lesser God; Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, and People's Choice Award nomination for Favorite Actress, Drama, both 1992-93, both for Reasonable Doubts; CableAce nomination for Best Actress in a Miniseries, 1994, for Against Her Will; Emmy Award nominations for Seinfeld, Picket Fences, The Practice, and Law and Order: SVU.
Deaf Child Crossing, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Doug Cooney) Nobody's Perfect, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Doug Cooney) Leading Ladies, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.
Widely known as an award-winning film actress, Marlee Matlin is also the author of Deaf Child Crossing, Nobody's Perfect, and Leading Ladies, novels that help young readers understand what it is like to be deaf. Matlin has a lot of material to draw on: she herself has been deaf since she was eighteen months old. "I must say that the challenges of motherhood, along with working as an actor in Hollywood with a hearing impair-
ment, provide food for thought and inspiration for anyone willing to listen to my story," she told Jackie Loohauis of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Matlin lives with her husband and four children in Los Angeles, California, where she is actively involved both in her Hollywood career and in various community service organizations.
In Deaf Child Crossing readers meet nine-year-old neighbors Megan and Cindy. Megan, who is deaf, is outgoing and enthusiastic while Cindy is shy. Nevertheless, Megan is determined that the two girls will become best friends. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found Matlin's first novel to be flawed but promising, and concluded that "Megan's rather unique character begs a sequel … for a broader range of readership." "Matlin is at her best when delving into Megan's inner world, such as her heightened sense of smell," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. While noting that the story is loosely based on Matlin's own childhood experiences, Anne O'Malley wrote in Booklist that Deaf Child Crossing "is as much Cindy's story as Megan's, and readers will identify with both girls' sorrows and successes."
Megan and Cindy's adventures continue in Nobody's Perfect and Leading Ladies, which Maitlin coauthors with award-winning playwright and novelist Doug Cooney. In the former, Megan tries her hardest to be nice to Alexis, a girl who seems repulsed by Megan's deafness. As she struggles to get to know Alexis, Megan realizes that Alexis has an autistic brother and does not want other students to find out. When Megan teaches Alexis's brother the basics of sign-language, she opens a door to communication for her new friend's family. Leading Ladies finds Megan and Cindy vying for the lead role in the school play. "Megan is … endearingly sincere," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a review of Nobody's Perfect, and Nancy Kim noted in Booklist that although audience appeal may be limited, for Matlin's target readers the novel "perfectly captures the intensity of a young girl's life."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 15, 2002, Anne O'Malley, review of Deaf Child Crossing, p. 598; July 1, 2006, Nancy Kim, review of Nobody's Perfect, p. 55.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2002, review of Deaf Child Crossing, p. 116.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of Deaf Child Crossing, p. 1476; May 15, 2006, review of Nobody's Perfect, p. 520.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 29, 1999, Jackie Loohauis, "Marlee Matlin's Courage in Life Paves Way to Success."
Publishers Weekly, September 16, 2002, review of Deaf Child Crossing, p. 69; December 22, 2003, John F. Baker, "Actress's YA Series Expands," p. 11.
School Library Journal, August, 2006, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Nobody's Perfect, p. 124.
Celebrity Café Web site,http://thecelebritycafe.com/ (July 5, 2007), Dominick A. Miserandino, interview with Matlin.
iParenting.com,http://iparenting.com/ (July 5, 2007), interview with Matlin.
Marlee Matlin Home Page,http://www.marleematlinsite.com (June 25, 2007).