The Marilu Henner Picture Pages

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“You know, one of the biggest thrills I have is when famous people recognize me from ‘Taxi.’ When I was working with George C. Scott on ‘The Titanic,’ he knew every episode! He would quote lines from it and I was so flattered because I couldn’t believe it was such a classic to him.” Marilu Henner

Five-time Golden Globe nominated American actress of TV, film and stage and best-selling author Marilu Henner is best remembered to TV audiences as Elaine Nardo on the hit sitcom “Taxi” (1978-1983), from which she nabbed her Golden Globe nominations, and Burt Reynolds’ partner, Ava Evans, on another popular sitcom, “Evening Shade” (1990-1994). She has also netted a CableACE nomination for her work on the Showtime film “Grown-Ups” (1985). Making her feature film acting debut in the sleeper hit “Between The Lines” (1977), the green-eyed, good-humored performer won Razzie nominations for her roles in the Burt Reynolds vehicle “Cannonball Run II” (1984), “Rustlers’ Rhapsody” (1985) and “Perfect” (1985), which starred her former lover John Travolta. Other film credits include “Hammet” (1982), “The Man Who Loved Woman” (1983, also starred Burt Reynolds), “L.A. Story” (1991), “Noises Off” (1992), the critically acclaimed “Man on the Moon” (1999, starred Jim Carrey) and “Enemies of Laughter” (2000). Henner has hosted the syndicated short-lived day time talk show “Marilu” (1994) and more recently, the PBS series “America’s Ballroom Challenge” (2006-2007), as well as acted in such Broadway productions as “Over There” (1974), “Pal Joey” (1976), “Chicago” (1997) and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” (2002). As a writer, Henner wrote the 1994 autobiography, “By All Means Keep on Moving,” and several books about diet and health, including “Marilu Henner’s Total Health Makeover: 10 Steps to your B.E.S.T.” (1998).

“Wherever my career takes me, I know I’ll love getting there because ever since I was 2 1/2 years old, I knew that this was all I ever wanted to do.” Marilu Henner

As for her personal life, Henner has been married three times. Currently the wife of her former college classmate Michael Brown, she was married to Oscar-nominated character actor Frederic Forrest from 1980 to 1982 and then director/producer Robert Lieberman from 1990 to 2001. Henner and Lieberman share two sons, Nicholas and Joseph. Her romantic life has also been linked to John Travolta, with whom she had an on-and-off relationship from 1972 to 1985, and “Taxi” costars Tony Danza (together in 1978) and Judd Hirsch (dated in 1979).

Henner is a vegetarian.

Childhood and Family:

“I grew up with a mom who made us take naps when we came home from school so we could stay up late and watch movies with her. My all-time favorite is ‘Singing in the Rain.’ Once you start watching it, you can’t look away.” Marilu Henner

Mary Lucy Denise Pudlowski, who would later be known as Marilu Henner, was born on April 6, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, to Joe Pudlowski, a car salesman, and Loretta Henner, a president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts (NADAA) who also ran a dance studio in the family garage called the Henner Dance School. Her family changed their surname to Henner. The third of six children, Mary’s siblings include brothers Lorin and Tom and sister Christal.

Growing up in the northwest side of Chicago, Mary graduated from Madonna High School and then spent three years at the University of Chicago before becoming a full-time actress. As a daughter of a dance instructor, she began her dancing lessons at age 2.

Mary married Texas-born actor Frederic Forrest on September 28, 1980, but they later divorced in 1982. She tried to build a new family by marrying director/producer Robert Lieberman on June 27, 1990. The couple’s first child, son Nicholas Morgan Lieberman, was born on May 12, 1994, and their second son, Joseph Marlon Lieberman, followed on November 12, 1995. Her second marriage ended in divorce on June 7, 2001. On December 21, 2006, Mary tied the knot with Michael Brown in a ceremony held in her Los Angeles home with Brown’s brother, a Universal Life minister, officiating the wedding.

Evening Shade’s Spouse

Getting early exposure on stage as a child in musical productions for Chicago’s Center Stage Group, Marilu Henner originated the supporting role of Marty in the musical “Grease” at the University of Chicago’s Community Theatre in 1971. When the show was brought to Broadway, she was invited to reprise the role, but rejected the chance and opted to join the touring company instead. There, she met Jeff Conaway, who played the lead role of Danny, and John Travolta, who played Doody. She was involved in a published romance with the latter actor during the tour.

Henner had left college for two years when she debuted on Broadway in a 1974 musical production of “Over There,” which starred Ann Reinking and Maxine Andrew and also cast Travolta as well as Treat Williams in supporting roles. She went on to appear in a Broadway revival of the musical “Pal Joey” in 1976 before debuting on the big screen with a small role in the sleeper hit “Between The Lines” (1977), starring Lindsay Crouse, John Heard, Jeff Goldblum and Jill Eikenberry. The following year, she was seen in the Robert Mulligan-directed drama “Bloodbrothers,” which starred Paul Sorvino, Tony Lo Bianco and Richard Gere.

In 1978, Henner gained attention playing Elaine O’Connor-Nardo on the well-liked and highly praised TV sitcom “Taxi” (ABC/NBC, 1978-1983), opposite Judd Hirsch as Alex Reiger, Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma, Tony Danza as Tony Banta and Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas, among others. As a receptionist-turned-cabbie, she was nominated for Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best TV Actress in a Supporting Role five times from 1979 to 1983.

The actress made her TV movie debut in “Dream House” (1981) and returned to film to star with then-husband Frederic Forrest and Peter Boyle in Win Wenders’ “Hammet” (1982). After “Taxi” came to an end, she was cast alongside Burt Reynolds, Julie Andrews and Kim Basinger in the remake “The Man Who Loved Woman” (1983). Before the project, she and Burt Reynolds worked together in 1978 on the NBC variety special “The Celebrity Football Classic.”

After starring as Michael Keaton’s girlfriend in “Johnny Dangerously” (1984), Henner was reunited with Reynolds for the action/comedy film “Cannonball Run II” (also 1984), where she received a 1985 Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actress for her role as Betty. The red-headed performer again earned negative reviews for her performances in the 1985 flops “Rustlers’ Rhapsody,” a spoof costarring Patrick Wayne and Tom Berenger, and “Perfect” (1985), a drama/romance that reunited her with John Travolta. The roles brought Henner her next Razzie nomination in 1986. Henner fared better on the small screen playing Louise in the based-on-play “Grown-Ups” (Showtime, 1985), for which she picked up a 1987 CableACE nomination for Best Actress in a Theatrical or Dramatic Special.

The rest of the decade found roles in such movies as “Love with the Perfect Stranger” (1986, TV), “Grand Larceny” (1987) and “Ladykillers” (1988, TV). She also revisited the stage to costar with Gregory Harrison, Valerie Mahaffy and David Marshall Grant in a 1988 production of “Carnal Knowledge” at the Pasadena Playhouse.

On television, Marilu rejoined Burt Reynolds to play his down-to-earth wife, Ava Evans Newton, on the comedy series “Evening Shade,” which also starred Hal Holbrook and Ossie Davis. A popular show on CBS, the laid-back sitcom collected several awards and nominations during its four season run, including two Golden Globe nominations for Best TV-Series – Comedy/Musical (1992, 1993) and a 1991 Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (for Reynolds).

While enjoying success on TV, Henner acted in the pleasant comedy films “L.A. Story” (1991), opposite Steve Martin, who also wrote the film, and “Noises Off” (1992), with Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Denholm Elliott and Julie Hagerty. She also costarred with John Travolta in “Chains of Gold” (1991), voiced the character Veronica Vreeland for the animated film “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993) as well as the TV series “Batman” (1993-1994), and appeared as a waitress named Katie in the Dennis Hopper-helmed comedy “Chasers” (1994), which also featured former husband Frederic Forrest as a mechanic named Duane. 1994 also saw Henner host her own daytime talk show, “Marilu,” which only had a short life, and publish an autobiography, “By All Means Keep on Moving.”

After “Evening Shade” left the airwaves, Henner starred in several TV films, including “Fight for Justice: The Nancy Conn Story” (1995), “My Son Is Innocent” (1996) and “Titanic” (1996), and returned to Broadway in 1997 to play Roxie Hart in the revival of “Chicago.” She revisited the wide screen after a four-year hiatus with “The Titanic Chronicles” and “Man on the Moon” (both 1999), a critically acclaimed biopic that documented the life of Andy Kaufman. Directed by Milos Forman, the latter production cast Jim Carrey as the illustrious comedian and Henner as herself. Meanwhile, outside acting, Henner released a book called “Marilu Henner’s Total Health Makeover: 10 Steps to your B.E.S.T.” (1998), which she co-wrote with Laura Morton.

In 2000, Henner could be seen starring in a revival of “Annie Get Your Gun” and appearing in the movie “Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel” and the made-for-TV films “Rocket’s Red Glare” and “A Tale of Two Bunnies.” She also published two more books, “I Refused to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence” and “Healthy Life Kitchen.” The following year, she released “The 30-Day Total Health Makeover.” She continued to act in a Broadway production of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” (2002), the based-on-novel television movie “Gone But Not Forgotten” (2004), alongside Brooke Shields, Lou Diamond Phillips and Scott Glenn, and “Joint Custody,” a 2005 comedy made-for-TV film directed by Shawn Levy and written by Joel Stein. She also made guest appearances in such TV series as “Providence” (2002), ”Greg the Bunny” (2002), “Center of the Universe” (2004) and “Living with Fran” (2005) and appeared as herself in the pilot “The Comeback” (2005), a comedy starring Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish. From 2006 to 2007, she hosted the PBS series “America’s Ballroom Challenge.”

Recently, Henner published her new book, “Wear Your Life Well: Use What You Have to Get What You Want.” She has also completed filming the made-for-TV film “Deadly Suspicion” (2008).

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