Marlee Matlin finds (and wears) her old Oscars dress during coronavirus quarantine
Children of a Lesser God
Who has time for silver linings when you have a golden Oscar to lift your spirits?
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin — who became the first deaf performer to win Best Actress — used her time while staying inside amid the coronavirus pandemic to dig through her closet and find (and pose for a photoshoot in) the dress she wore to the 1987 Oscars.
"I’m losing my mind but what else is there to do? At least the dress still fits - 33 years later!" the 54-year-old wrote Saturday on Instagram alongside a photo of herself holding her Oscar while wearing the lavender gown she initially wore upon accepting the statuette at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
At 21, Matlin became the first deaf person to win an Academy Award for acting for her performance in director Randa Haines' Best Picture-nominated 1986 drama Children of a Lesser God, in which she plays a janitor at a school for the deaf who falls in love with a speech teacher played by William Hurt.
In a 2012 essay written for EW in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her Oscars victory, Matlin discussed wearing the Theoni V. Aldredge-designed dress to the event, where she also became the youngest person to ever win Best Actress — a record she still holds today.
"Back then, there were no dress giveaways on the red carpet. As far as I recall, you just bought a dress off the rack. Though I was just a 21-year-old kid with a modest pocket-book, thankfully, Paramount and my publicists hooked me up with Ms. Aldredge who had won multiple Tonys for her costume work on Broadway and an Oscar for her work in The Great Gatsby," Matlin remembered. "The lavender dress she designed had a blend of elegance and romance that I loved. With that beautiful dress, I decided to wear my hair up. Unfortunately, at the last moment, a combination of events left me walking out on the red carpet with baby’s breath in my hair (my hairdresser’s idea) and oversized black horned-rimmed glasses (my boyfriend’s idea who said sarcastically when I wanted to take them off, 'You’re not a model'). If I had it all to take back, I would’ve ditched the baby’s breath and glasses. What can I say; it was my youth and it was the ’80s."
Since winning her Oscar, Matlin has worked steadily in film and television, leading movies like 2004's What the Bleep Do We Know!? and appearing on TV series like The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, The L Word, and Switched at Birth. She will next star in the Disney+ comedy series Life and Deaf, based on the life of Matlin’s longtime interpreter, Jack Jason, who grew up with deaf parents in the 1970s.