10 Hollywood Success Stories Against All Odds

Added by Andrew Tyson on Apr 5, 2019

Marlee Matlin

Career: Actress

While not born deaf, Marlee Matlin lost almost all ability to hear at the age of 18 months, with only 20% of hearing ability in her left ear remaining. Even so, she showed interest in acting from an early age, debuting on stage at age seven as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Molested by a babysitter, and later a teacher in high school, Matlin continued to seek comfort on the stage. This would eventually lead to her being discovered by Henry Winkler. In her debut film at 21 years of age, she would become the only deaf performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Children of a Lesser God, as well as the youngest person to ever receive the award. She also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for the role. She continues to be one of the most recognizable faces for performers with handicaps, working in television and film to this day.


Stephen J. Cannell

Career: Television producer, writer and novelist.

For two decades, there were very few hour-long dramas on television that did not bear the mark of Stephen Cannell. Now considered classic American television, shows like The A-Team, Columbo, Baretta, 21 Jump Street, and The Commish helped define the 1980's and early 90's. Not too bad for a man who was diagnosed as dyslexic early in life, and was even forced to dictate his scripts and ideas to a personal secretary, being unable to write them down himself. By the end of his career, the child who couldn't read well and constantly failed English at school had scripted nearly 500 episodes and produced over 1,500 episodes.

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