Entertainment Weekly: Oscars 1987: Marlee Matlin reminisces on her historic Best Actress win

February 21st, 2012

Entertainment Weekly
By Marlee Matlin
February 21, 2012


Twenty-five years ago, the 59th annual Academy Awards took place on March 30, 1987, and I had an A-ticket to the show. I was 21 years and 218 days old when I received the Academy Award for Best Actress. I had just stepped into an imaginary world that I’d seen at a distance for years.

In addition to my nomination for Best Actress, I was also asked to be a presenter. I asked if I could present Best Achievement in Sound. Though some at the time thought it was in poor taste and didn’t see the humor (producer Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. thought it was a funny idea), I thought it was great. Hey, this year if the The Artist could rightfully garner Oscar attention for telling a wonderful story with actors barely uttering a single word, why couldn’t it work back then in vice versa fashion for me? That’s my sense of humor, and I’ve never wanted to be treated with kid gloves.

Theoni V. Aldredge had designed my dress for the Oscars. 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. 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.

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