Marlee Matlin made history in 1987 as the youngest person and the first deaf performer to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, according to Biography. It should have been a joyous time, but as the “CODA” actor recalled in her 2009 memoir, “I’ll Scream Later,” the night was ruined by her then-boyfriend, William Hurt. As reported by Daily Beast, Matlin said that, in their limo, Hurt coldly asked her, “What makes you think you deserve it? There are hundreds of actors who have worked for years for the recognition you just got handed to you.” In a 2021 Daily Beast interview, Matlin noted that she would have “slugged him” if the incident had happened today.
Over the course of their two years together, Matlin alleged that Hurt was physically abusive, leaving her with bruises and a split lip. She said that Hurt came home drunk one night, started arguing with her, tore off her clothes, and sexually assaulted her. When her memoir was published and the allegations began making headlines, Hurt attempted damage control in an interview with E! News: “My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused.”
Matlin has yet to comment on Hurt’s death, but in the Daily Beast interview, she said that she has moved on from the pain of that relationship. She added, “I know how important it is to stand up for yourself, and I’ve passed along that message to my daughter.”
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).