After being rendered deaf in infancy — the result of a battle with the disease roseola — Marlee Matlin went on to become an award-winning actress, author and spokeswoman.
Matlin made her film debut as an angry young deaf woman in 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God,” which earned her an Academy Award. Just 21 at the time, she became the youngest woman ever to win the best actress award, and the only hearing-impaired Oscar winner.
After her victory, Matlin appeared in a number of film and television projects. She made her TV debut in the CBS movie “A Bridge to Silence.” She went on to do guest appearances on NBC’s “Seinfeld” and CBS’ “Picket Fences,” a gig that earned her an Emmy and later led to her becoming a series regular. She also starred in the NBC series “Reasonable Doubts” and had a recurring role on NBC’s “The West Wing.” Other notable appearances included stints on “Desperate Housewives,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Nip/Tuck.” She even joined the sixth-season cast of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in 2008.
Throughout her career, she’s been a strong advocate for the deaf community. In spring 2009, she released an autobiography, “I’ll Scream Later” (a collaboration with The Times’ Betsy Sharkey).
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