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Movies: Marlee Matlin
Hit: "Children of a Lesser God"
Why just the one?: "Miracle Worker" aside, I can't really think of any dynamite roles for deaf actors. For thriving in the one major role ever available to her, Marlee Matlin earned the 1986 Best Actress Oscar over a slate of daunting contemporaries: Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, Kathleen Turner, and Sigourney Weaver. Adapted from Mark Medoff's Tony-winning play, "Children of a Lesser God" stars Matlin as a cleaner in a New England school for the deaf who falls in love with a teacher (William Hurt). Their relationship and subsequent friction are very engaging, and Matlin is resplendent as the youngest Oscar winner ever in her category.
- Louis Virtel