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Marlee Matlin Will Deliver Keynote Address at 60th Annual Spring Commencement
(March 23, 2007) -- Wilkes University's spring commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. at Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.
Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin will deliver the keynote address at Wilkes University’s 60th Annual Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 19, 2007.
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." After several years of performing on stage throughout Chicago and the Midwest, she was discovered in a Chicago stage production of Mark Medoff’s Tony Award-winning play, "Children of a Lesser God." Following an extensive international search for the lead role, the producers of the film version selected her to star opposite William Hurt.
Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim and the 1986 Academy Award for Best Actress for her motion picture debut in "Children of a Lesser God." At age 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Matlin was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama. That same year she was honored by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine as one of the “The Ten Most Beautiful Women” and Esquire Magazine’s “Women We Love.”
Matlin followed her film debut with a second feature, "Walker," starring Ed Harris. While filming in Nicaragua, Matlin took time to visit hearing impaired children, as she has done extensively throughout her travels to Australia, England, Italy, Germany, Russia, Croatia, Mexico and Canada.
Matlin also starred in 20th Century Fox's "Hear No Evil," a suspense thriller co-starring Martin Sheen and in MGM/United Artists’ AIDS drama "It's My Party, " written and directed by Randal Kleiser. In 2005, Marlee made an auspicious return to features with the critically acclaimed documentary/feature, “What the Bleep Do We Know!?”
Matlin made her television debut starring with Lee Remick in CBS’ "Bridge to Silence." She went on to star for two seasons in the NBC Television series, "Reasonable Doubts" opposite Mark Harmon. She was twice nominated for both a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Dramatic Television Series as well as the People's Choice Awards. Matlin was nominated for two Emmy awards for her guest turns on NBC's "Seinfeld and CBS's "Picket Fences."
She also starred in "Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story," a movie for Lifetime Television in which she was nominated for a CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series. Matlin broke down yet another barrier with the role, playing a character that was not deaf.
Matlin returned to CBS’ "Picket Fences" for two seasons to reprise her Emmy-nominated role. Matlin has several other television credits to her name, including seven seasons starring opposite Martin Sheen on NBC's Emmy Award-winning series, "The West Wing.” Matlin received her third Emmy Award nomination for her work on ABC's "The Practice,” and guest starred on and NBC’s “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” receiving her fourth Emmy nomination for her work. Matlin has also recently guest-starred on “Desperate Housewives,” “My Name is Earl” and “CSI: New York.” In 2007, she joined the cast of Showtime’s cutting edge drama “The L Word” starring opposite Jennifer Beals.
Matlin has also appeared in a number of educational and children’s programs, as well as musical performances. She served as host of PBS’ Emmy Award winning series “People in Motion,” and in 2007, she was featured in the PBS documentary, “Through Deaf Eyes.” Other appearances include MTV’s “Rock the Vote," Disney’s award winning series “Adventures in Wonderland” and Nickelodeon's Emmy Award winning "Blues Clues.” She appeared on "Sesame Street" with Grammy Award winning singer Billy Joel, performing “Just the Way You Are,” and appeared in the music video for Joel's Grammy-nominated "We Didn't Start the Fire." In January, 1993, she performed the national anthem in American Sign Language with Garth Brooks at the Super Bowl and again in 2007 with Billy Joel. Matlin can currently be seen starring in “Baby Wordsworth,” part of the highly acclaimed “Baby Einstein” series, teaching sign language to infants and toddlers.
In September, 1999, under her Solo One Productions banner, Matlin embarked on her first effort as Executive Producer and starred in the courtroom thriller “Where the Truth Lies” for Lifetime Television, and in 2003, produced “Eddie’s Million Dollar Bake-off” for The Disney Channel, receiving an honor from the National Council on Family Relations for excellence in programming.
Matlin published a novel for children entitled "Deaf Child Crossing" in 2002. Simon and Shuster published the sequel, “Nobody’s Perfect” in summer, 2006 and will publish the second sequel, “Leading Ladies” in 2007.
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, she served as Chairperson for National Volunteer Week and was honored in a White House Rose Garden ceremony by the President.
Matlin currently serves as a national celebrity spokesperson for The American Red Cross, encouraging Americans to donate blood. She has also worked on behalf of closed captioning and in 1992 was instrumental in getting Congress to pass federal legislation requiring all televisions manufactured in the United States be equipped with closed captioning technology. She also serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations including Easter Seals, The Children Affected by Aids Foundation, as well as those charities which primarily benefit children. Matlin 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.
Ms. Matlin optioned a screenplay written by Dr. Bonnie Culver, professor of English and director of the MA in creative writing program, called RAINING RAINBOWS, a full-length feature film about a deaf boy, his estranged father, and a woman (Matlin’s character) who helps them come together. You may wish to speak with Dr. Culver about her relationship with Matlin. Dr. Culver’s office extension is 4527.