MATLIN, MARLEE (1965– ), U.S. actress. Born in Morton Grove, Illinois, Matlin lost most of her hearing at 18 months after a bout with measles. She learned English, Hebrew, and sign language at Chicago's Congregation Bene Shalom / Hebrew Association for the Deaf and made her acting debut at age seven as Dorothy in a children's theater version of The Wizard of Oz. In 1987, at the age of 21, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Sarah Norman in Children of a Lesser God, the youngest performer ever to receive the award and the only hearing-impaired person to be awarded the prize. Subsequently Matlin acted in numerous films, including Walker (1987), It's My Party (1996), Hear No Evil (1993), and What the Bleep Do We Know? (2004). She also appeared in numerous television series, including Picket Fences (1992), for which she won an Emmy; ER (1998); Law and Order (2004); The West Wing (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005); and Desperate Houswives. (2005). When not acting, Matlin works with various charity organizations such as the Children Affected by aids Foundation, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric aids Foundation, the Starlight Foundation, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet. Matlin is also the author of Deaf Child Crossing (2002), a novel based on her own childhood experiences. In 1993 Matlin married Kevin Grandalski (in Henry Winkler's back yard). Together, they have three children.
[Alex Frankel (2nd ed.)]