Inside Actress Marlee Matlin's Silent World

Though much of my life was falling apart, for that one night I was able to put all the problems and the pain aside and let the extraordinary evening wash over me. I don't know whether it's fate or karma or just me, but for every momentous time in my life – good or bad—it seems the gods always throw in something for comic relief. On the way up to the podium to accept my Golden Globe, I looked down and realized that one of the Lee press-on nails that I'd glued on and painted bright red earlier that day had come off. Instead of thinking about what I would say, my only thought was how in the world could I sign and hide that broken nail!

But once I hit the stage, that thought flew from my mind. All I could think about was how grateful I was to be recognized in this way. And that is essentially what I signed. Short, simple, heartfelt.

The walk backstage to the pressroom, Golden Globe in hand, was amazing, overwhelming. My heart was pounding, I swear I could feel each beat, hundreds of strobe lights were going off in my face, photographers were screaming my name until Whoopi Goldberg flung her arms around me, gave me a squeeze, and said with no small irony to the crowd, "Hey, guys, she's Deaf, she can't hear you."

But photographers are a hungry bunch – a really great shot puts steak on the table and a Mercedes in the driveway – so it didn't take long for them to figure out the trick to getting my attention. So the shouts were replaced by waving hands and I twisted and turned and smiled as the hands in front of me waved wildly.

That night I went back to my room at the L'Ermitage Hotel and closed the door on Hollywood – at least for a time.

On the other side of that door, the Oscar campaign for the movie was getting ready to kick into overdrive. I had no idea how Oscar season worked in Hollywood, all that it entailed. There was publicity to do, photo shoots to line up, magazine covers to consider, TV talk shows to book. There were calls from the studio, the media, old friends, new friends, agents.

The calls would go unanswered, the interviews would all be turned down, the photo shoots nixed. I had decided I was going to quietly disappear, leaving it to Jack Jason, my interpreter and increasingly the person I relied on to help with the business details of my life, to run interference for me. I told him to say no to everything—though I was pretty much oblivious of how much that would be-- but to tell absolutely no one where I was or why I wasn't available. No exceptions.

I was lucky. Today in the world of rabid paparazzi and TMZ such discretion wouldn't be possible. But in 1987, only a handful of people knew where I was going – my immediate family, Jack, and, of course Bill, whose own stint at Betty Ford was barely finished by the time I checked in.

It was hard enough to go into rehab, it was harder still that I had virtually no support for my decision. Bill was the only person encouraging me. Everyone else thought whatever problems I might have with drugs weren't all that serious, and, besides, didn't I realize my career was at stake?

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