Marlee Matlin

An acclaimed actress who lost her hearing as a toddler, Marlee Matlin was born Aug. 24, 1965, in Morton Grove, Ill., and began performing at age 7 with a theater group for the deaf.

After appearing in a Chicago production of "Children of a Lesser God," Matlin was cast in the 1986 film version of the play and -- in her silver-screen debut -- promptly collected an Academy Award for her impeccable performance. She has also sparkled on television, where she garnered two Golden Globe nominations for her role as a hearing-impaired prosecutor (opposite Mark Harmon) on "Reasonable Doubts." In addition, Matlin has earned Emmy nods for her work on "Picket Fences" and for guest spots on "Seinfeld," "The Practice" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Matlin's other small-screen efforts include recurring roles on popular series such as "The West Wing," "Desperate Housewives" and "My Name Is Earl."