by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/30/17 – Acclaimed actress Marlee Matlin will receive the Morton E. Ruderman award at a ceremony next month in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The $100,000 award will be given to the Oscar winner on behalf of the Ruderman Family Foundation for her work promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in Hollywood.
- Best Actress Winners’ Oscars Gowns…Marlee Matlin, 1987 Won the Oscar for her role in Children of a Lesser God
This will be Matlin’s first trip to Israel. During her time there she is expected to meet with film and television executives, politicians, and advocates for disability rights to discuss what more can be done to ensure people with disabilities are well represented both on and off screen.
Matlin made movie history with her wrenching portrayal of a deaf former student at a school where her love interest (well played by William Hurt) was a speech teacher in the 1986 Randa Haines film CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD. The film was based upon the Tony Award-winning Broadway stage play of the same name by Mark Medoff and distributed by Paramount Pictures.
To date Matlin remains the youngest Best Actress Oscar winner (aged 21) and the only deaf actress to win an Oscar for her portrayal of this uniquely compelling character, Sarah Norman. She also won a Golden Globe Award for the same role.
Life imitated art when Matlin and Hurt entered into a well-publicized abusive relationship during the filming of CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD. Professional jealousy over the relatively unknown Matlin’s Oscar win may have lain at the core of this real-life conflict. The classically trained and privileged Hurt was already being lauded as one of the finest actors of his generation, but was passed over for an Oscar as Matlin’s co-star in CHILDREN.
The dark title of the play and film comes from the twelfth chapter of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King.” Marlee Matlin’s Jewish heritage was not highlighted in the movie version, which instead explored the more universal aspects of the intriguing romance between a deaf and hearing person with uncommon sensitivity and insight.
Notably, many of the scenes in CHILDREN were enacted in American Sign Language (ASL) on both stage and screen. The play and the film both generally gained praise from the hearing and deaf communities alike.
Besides William Hurt, Marlee Matlin dated many well-known Hollywood personalities such as Richard Dean Anderson and David E. Kelley as is detailed in her 2009 memoir I’LL SCREAM LATER. Fellow actors Jennifer Beals and Henry Winkler are particularly close friends. Matlin married husband Kevin Grandalski at Winkler’s Los Angeles home in 1993 and the couple now has four children.
Matlin has made more films and guest starred on such top-quality television dramas as ER,LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, THE PRACTICE, REASONABLE DOUBTS, SEINFELD, and THE WEST WING among many others. Her defining role may nevertheless remain her very first in the film version of CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD, which this reporter and her husband watched over and over when they were exactly the same age as Matlin as young lovers in college.
Even Donald Trump was unable to resist Marlee Matlin’s intense allure when he donated $14,000 as host of THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE to match the $986,000 she raised on April 3rd, 2011 and bring the total to an even million! This record-breaking feat helped to add a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Matlin’s long and growing list of accolades. Charity work on behalf of the disabled is now her primary focus.
“Apart from being a world class actress who has won an Oscar, Marlee Matlin is an international leader whose courage and determination to increase awareness of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the film and entertainment industries in Hollywood is an inspiration,” Ruderman Family Foundation president Jay Ruderman said. Hearty congratulations are due Marlee Matlin for this latest important honor on behalf of millions who remain voiceless around the world.