How Deaf Is Marlee Matlin?




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Marlee Matlin came into the limelight back in 1986 when she became a recipient of the Oscar for her memorable performance in “Children of a Lesser God.”

Deaf Is Marlee Matlin

The scintillating facts are that never before had a deaf performer made this overarching splash in the entertainment industry. Marlee was the youngest actress to receive the Oscar in this category to boot. 

Marlee Matlin has an incredible award-winning career. She has been a star cast member in several TV programs. Marlee has also won acclaim for being a role model for all deaf young learners.

Also, make sure to check out my post on How Deaf Was Edison And What Is The Cause? 

Marlee has a fantastic career regardless of being deaf. She was completely deaf in one ear, and the other ear had also lost 80% of her hearing power. 

Early Life of Marlee Matlin – How Deaf is She? 

The life of Marlee Matlin is an intelligent repartee of the myths and stereotypes surrounding people who are hard of hearing or deaf. Marlee is an idol in her role as a mother of four and a local spouse. 

Marlee Matlin grew up in a suburb of Chicago named Morton Grove. Her parents knew about her hearing loss at the tender age of 18 months. The reason for this tragedy was unclear. Nevertheless, doctors blamed illness and high fever for this dilemma. 

Moreover, the doctors could not provide enough solace to the grieving parents. The parents of Marlee could not imagine the pangs of separation. They could not set themselves to admit Marlee to a school far from home. Marlee sketches this grim scenario in her very own words. 

“Every time the doctors suggested a deaf-special school, my parents would reply with the same heart-wrenching answer, ‘who will put Marlee to bed every night?” 

Finally, they decided to enroll Marlee in Hersey High School in Arlington. A school offering mixed classes for normal, hard of hearing, and deaf students. While growing up, Marlee Matlin was encouraged to use different sign languages and her residual voice. 

A Supporting Family

It is a fact that the success of Marlee was made possible because of the relentless efforts of her parents. Many times in her life, she admitted this proposition, 

“My siblings and parents always opened up opportunities for me. Every time someone questioned my hearing aids, they would tell her that I was wearing big globs of bubble gum. It’s fun, not a disability at all.” 

The family sense of humor made the thorny career path rosy for Marlee. 

Acting Career

Marlee would regularly attend the summer camps in her early childhood. She identified a knack for acting in those extra-curricular events. 

As a young girl, she was admitted to “The Center of Deafness” (currently known as ICODA – the International Center for Deafness and the Arts). “The Center of Deafness” was a first-of-its-genre performing arts hub where hearing and deaf students had equal opportunities to showcase their talent. 

Deaf Is Marlee Matlin

At the tender age of just seven, Marlee participated in “The Wizard of Oz.” She fully justified her role as Dorothy and mesmerized the audience through her outstanding performance at the ICODA theater. That very first successful performance was a defining moment in Marlee’s life. 

She later toured the Midwest to attend college and pursue her dream of being an actress. Before one performance, she learned that Henry Winkler, aka “The Fonz,” would attend the show. She wasted no time; she appeared before Henry and earnestly implored them to give her a chance on the big screen. 

Amazing Fact: Much later, Henry Winkler disclosed that some leading lights in the industry dissuaded him from casting Marlee as an actress. They quoted examples that never before had the industry accepted a deaf person as an actress. Henry admitted that he had seen the spark in Marlee’s glaring eyes. The spark to burn the resentment all around. 

Let’s hear what Henry’s response was in Marlee’s own words, 

“Henry knelt, stared directly into my eyes, and spoke in his signature Fonzie-like voice, ‘Marlee, sweetheart, you can be whatever you want. Don’t let anyone hinder your aspirations”. 

Rising from the humble beginnings of community theater to the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood, Marlee has faced many odds throughout her career. Marlee faced the backlash from her own fear community when she chose to present the Oscars next year’s schedule in her voice. She described that experience as

 “Some members of the deaf community misunderstood my presentation as offensive. I was unduly mortified. They didn’t get my underlying message that deaf persons should have the courage to speak and not sign.” 

Supporting Friends

Whoopi Goldberg has always been moral support and a source of spiritual guidance for Marlee. Once Marlee became entangled in a controversy when she wore blue contact lenses. 

The African American community chastised her for trying to “be white.”  Marlee was so upset to hear these comments about her. Nevertheless, Whoopi came forward and advised Marlee:

“Marlee, you do what’s right for you and works for you. You need to move on.”

Since then, Marlee Matlin has never stopped moving. 

Personal Life 

Besides having an outstanding career in Hollywood, the domestic life of Marlene Marlon was also sound. She met her husband, Kevin Grandalski, on the “Reasonable Doubts” set. Kevin worked as a Police Officer in Los Angeles. 

Merlene never let deafness overcome her statute as an ideal mother. They fathered four beautiful children; Sarah, Brandon, Tyler, and Isabelle. She single-handedly meets the tiring demands of the profession as well as motherhood. Moreover, she has recently published a book titled ” Deaf Child Crossing.” 

More Power to Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin is upbeat and optimistic about her life. Her journey of success is never-ending, and she is all set to discover more compelling opportunities in the future. She elucidates her future strategy as follows, 

“I’m an actress to prove accolades including Oscar, Golden Globe, and a couple of Emmy nominations.” 

We have a related article for you: How Deaf Was Beethoven? How Did He Become Deaf?

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