|Starring in “Children of a Lesser God” at age 21, Marlee Matlin became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut. Born and raised in Morton Grove, Illinois, Matlin started acting at the age of seven in the role of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” at a children’s theatre company in Chicago. She was discovered in a Chicago stage production of “Children of a Lesser God.” She was then selected to star in the film version.Matlin made her TV debut in CBS’ “Bridge to Silence.” She went on to star for two seasons in the series “Reasonable Doubts.” She was twice nominated for both a Golden Globe as well as a People’s Choice Award. Matlin was nominated for two Emmys for her guest turns on “Seinfeld” and “Picket Fences.” Matlin also starred in “Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story,” a movie for Lifetime Television, for which she was nominated for a CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series. She broke down yet another barrier with the role, playing a character who wasn’t deaf. Matlin returned to CBS’ “Picket Fences” to reprise her Emmy-nominated role. Coincidentally, her character on “Picket Fences” gave birth on the same day she gave birth in real life, a feat repeated exactly 43 years to the day by Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy” on the same network, CBS.
For seven seasons, Matlin starred as pollster Joey Lucas, on NBC’s Emmy Award winning series “The West Wing.” She received her third Emmy Award nomination for her work on ABC’s “The Practice,” and guest starred on NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU,” receiving a fourth Emmy nomination for her work. In 2007, she joined the cast of Showtime’s “The L Word.” She returned for a second season in 2008. Most recently, Matlin competed on Season 6 of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Matlin published a novel for children entitled “Deaf Child Crossing” in 2002, followed by “Nobody’s Perfect,” in summer 2006, and “Leading Ladies” in 2007. She has appeared on Sesame Street. She has also performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in sign language for two Super Bowls.
In 1994, Matlin was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to the Board of Directors for the Corporation for National Service. In 1995, Matlin served as Chairperson for National Volunteer Week, and was honored in a White House Rose Garden ceremony by the President.
Matlin serves as a national spokesperson for The American Red Cross. In 1992, she was instrumental in getting Congress to pass federal legislation requiring all TVs manufactured in the U.S. be equipped with closed-captioning technology. She serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations. She has also combined her charity work with commercial ventures and has appeared in numerous commercials and public service announcements, on behalf of corporate sponsors such as Target, Sprint, and Toys R Us, each designed to raise awareness about the importance of donating to charitable organizations. In 2006, Matlin was honored by America Online as Chief Everything Officer, highlighting the important contributions of mothers in both home and work environments.
In April 2009, Matlin released her bestselling memoir “I’ll Scream Later,” published by Simon and Shuster. Currently, Matlin is developing a half-hour comedy for Showtime with writer/producer Carol Leifer.
Matlin makes her home in the greater Los Angeles area. She and her husband have four children.