Marlee Beth Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American actress. She is the only deaf performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she won for Children of a Lesser God. At the age of 21, she became the youngest person in history to win that award for a leading role. Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations, and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 18 months old, she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf. Her longtime interpreter is Jack Jason.
Matlin was born in Morton Grove, Illinois, to Libby (née Hammer) and Donald Matlin (1930-2013), an automobile dealer. She has two older brothers, Eric and Marc. She lost all hearing in her right ear and 80% of the hearing in her left ear at the age of 18 months. In her autobiography I'll Scream Later, she suggests that her hearing loss may have been due to a genetically malformed cochlea. She also indicated that she is the only member of her family who is deaf. Her family was of Russian Jewish descent. Matlin had a Bat Mitzvah, and managed to read her Torah portion by learning Hebrew phonetically; she was later interviewed for the book Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories. Matlin graduated from John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.
In her autobiography I'll Scream Later, she described two instances when she was molested by her babysitter at the age of 11 and by her teacher in high school...
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