Born and raised in Morton Grove, Illinois, Marlee started acting at the age of seven in the role of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” at a children’s theatre company in Chicago. Deaf since she was 18 months old, due to illness and high fevers, she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf. Her longtime interpreter is Jack Jason.
After several years of performing on stage throughout Chicago and the midwest, Marlee 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. It was a performance the film community chose to recognize in with its highest honor — the Academy Award for Best Actress. 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.
Marlee makes her home in the greater Los Angeles area with her husband, law enforcement officer Kevin Grandalski.