A stranger rose against all odds with the Oscar for best actress in 1987 for Children of a lesser god. Was Marlee Matlin, a deaf actress who debuted in the cinema with William Hurt and under the direction of Randa Haines in a film that opted for five Academy Awards and that ultimately only materialized that of that young fighter who beat veterans like Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, the return), Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue got married), Sissy Spacek (Crimes of the heart) and Jane Fonda (The next morning).
Born on August 24, 1965 in Illinois into a Jewish family of Russian and Polish origin, a genetic malformation caused her to lose her right ear hearing and 80% of her left hearing at 18 months. This disability never limited her desire to become an actress and at age seven she played Dorothy as 'The Wizard of Oz' in a play. "I have always resisted setting limits, both professionally and personally," he once said in an interview.
During her youth she was part of the ICODA, the International Center for Deafness and the Arts, a non-profit foundation where she was discovered by the actor, director and producer Henry Winkler, who invited her to appear for the casting for the film adaptation of Children of a lesser god, a play written by Mark Medoff that was on the Broadway placard between 1980 and 1982 and returned again on the stage in 2018. With his experience and determination, Marlee went without problems with the role of Sarah Norman, a young deaf woman He maintained a love story with a therapist for the deaf (Hurt) who struggled to teach him to speak instead of using sign language.
The film garnered good reviews and the moving performance of Matlin gave her the Golden Globe for best dramatic actress, in addition to the Oscar. With 21 years became the youngest actress to win the golden statue in that category, apart from being the only deaf woman who has achieved so far.
William Hurt, with whom he initiated a romantic relationship during the filming of the film, was in charge of giving him the prize with a loving kiss and a handshake. Before the loud applause of the audience, an emotional Marlee expressed with sign language that had not prepared any speech, but thanked the members of the Academy, their family and the film team, especially Hurt for their support and love.
A love that, in the end, ended up like the rosary of the dawn, since they had a very turbulent relationship for two years. In his memoir, titled I will shout later, Marlee accused him of physical and emotional abuse. On the pages he even recounted an attempted rape by his partner. "I was always afraid of him. But I always loved it, "he said.
She had been hooked on drugs since she moved to New York at age 19 and he had problems with alcohol. In her memoirs, she reflected the time she spent at the Betty Ford clinic to detoxify herself and her complicated childhood, where she suffered sexual abuse from her nanny and one of her teachers.
After the success of Children of a lesser God, Matlin did not repeat the feat on the big screen. Along with Ed Harris he intervened in the western Walker (1987) and then went on to swell the group of performers who had no choice but to pursue their career in television, especially in series and telefilms, such as Bridge of silence, with Lee Remick or Reasonable doubts, along with Mark Harmon, for which he opted for the Golden Globe in 1992 and 1993.
By Picket Fences (1992), a series created by David E. Kelly, was nominated for an Emmy. Other of the known series by which it was seen are Seinfeld, Emergency, The west wing of the White House, Law, My name is Earl, Desperate women, Family Guy, CSI: New York or L. In Changed at birth (2011-2017) played Melody Bledsoe, a counselor and coach of basketball at a school for the deaf.
Practically all the films in which he worked for the cinema after his acclaimed debut passed without pain or glory, destined to videoclub consumption, as Shadows in silence, in the role of a deaf and dumb athletic trainer; Blue betrayal or In its own defense. In 1993 he married Kevin Grandakski, a police officer with whom he lives in Los Angeles and whom he met while shooting the series Reasonable doubts. Marriage is the father of four children: Sarah Rose (1996), Brandon (2000), Tyler (2002) and Isabelle Jane (2003).
Apart from her career as an actress, Marlee Matlin is also a writer - she has published the novel Deaf child crossing, vaguely based on his childhood, and a series of books for children - and has stood out for his charitable work to benefit the integration of deaf people and the fight against AIDS. Nor has he had any qualms about being seen by some television contests with celebrities coming to less like Look who is dancing or The newbie to raise funds for the foundations in which it is involved.
One of his last works has been in the fantastic series The magicians. He has announced his participation in the romantic drama Silent knights in a leading role and Silent voice, where he will coincide with Blair Underwood in a story about a man who will find his own voice with the help of his family and community.
At 53, Marlee uses social networks to emphasize the need to achieve greater inclusion in society of people with different abilities, with special attention to children, as well as a more constant presence of the use of sign language in the televisions. In 2016, she used her Twitter account and Instagram to respond to her outrage over statements by Donald Trump in which she had referred to her as "retarded" at the time when the current president of the United States was a reality show host. The Celebrity Apprentice.
"In recent press reports circulates that Donald Trump called me apparently" retarded ". The term is aberrant and should never be used (...). I am deaf, there are millions of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in the world who are discriminated against on a daily basis. It is unacceptable, "he stressed.
Matlin is very close to actress Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) and since 2009 he has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In his Instagram account, with nearly 200,000 followers, he hangs images where he is always smiling next to colleagues, friends or relatives.
The actress, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is also a writer and activist in favor of the integration of deaf people and the fight against AIDS.