Marilu Henner

Active - 1977 - 2018  |   Born - Apr 6, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Redheaded leading lady Marilu Henner was born and educated in Chicago, where her mother ran a dance studio in the family garage. Henner also began her acting career in City of Broad Shoulders. She was one of the stars of the original community-theatre production of Grease, remaining with the show when it moved to New York in 1976 (During this period, she carried on a well-publicized romance with former Grease cast member John Travolta). She went on to garner excellent revues for her work in the Broadway production Over Here, an otherwise disappointing musical spoof of the 1940s starring the Andrews Sisters. Henner began making on-camera appearances in 1977, notably as a stripper in Joan Micklin Silver's Behind the Lines, and in a generously distributed "Ring Around the Collar!" TV commercial. From 1978 through 1983, Henner played Elaine Nardo on the popular TV sitcom Taxi. Though she never won the Emmy that she deserved for this role, she could take consolation in the fact that she was made an honorary New York City cabbie. Several film roles followed in such low-profile productions as Hammet (1983) and Johnny Dangerously (1984) before Henner re-entered the sitcom grind as Ava Evans Newton, wife of high-school athletics coach Burt Reynolds, on the long-running (1990-94) Evening Shade. In 1994, Henner hosted her own TV talk show, a career move that coincided with the publication of her autobiography By All Means Keep on Moving. Chatty and very candid, the book revealed that Henner had slept with virtually every male member of the Taxi cast (only Danny DeVito was bypassed because, unlike his hot-to-trot Louie DePalma character, he never asked). Marilu Henner has been married twice, to actor Frederic Forrest and producer/director Robert Lieberman. Still active on the small screen in the first decade of the new millennium, Henner could be spotted in guest roles on such popular shows as Providence, ER, Numb3rs, and Grey's Anatomy.

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  • Studied dance for most of her life before becoming an actor. 
  • At age 18, played Marty in the original Chicago production of Grease. Two years later, dropped out of the University of Chicago to tour with the show's national company.
  • Breakout role was Elaine Nardo on the popular sitcom Taxi (1978-83).
  • In 1994, hosted the short-lived syndicated talk show Marilu. That same year, she penned her autobiography By All Means Keep on Moving.
  • A proponent of healthy living and good parenting, she has authored several books on the subjects, including Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover (1998) and I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence (1999).
  • Met future husband Michael Brown in college while he was dating her roommate. In 2004, Brown proposed to her from a hospital bed.
  • Has a condition called hyperthymesia, a kind of "super memory" that allows her to recall nearly every event in her life. Only 12 people in the world are known to have this ability.