Marilu Henner may have started in Grease, but the redhead’s now best known as a health guru. She's also testified at Congress and allowed cameras to film her giving birth.
The third of six children, she attended the University of Chicago for three years before deciding to commit to acting. Billed as Marilu Henner, she originated the supporting role of Marty in the musical ‘Grease’ at the University of Chicago's Community Theatre.
Henner dropped out of school in 1972, in order to travel with the national company of ‘Grease’, at which time she carried on a highly publicised romance with co-star John Travolta. In 1976 she moved to New York, landing her first Broadway role in ‘Over Here!’. Following a handful of forgettable stage performances, Henner made her cinematic debut as a stripper in the 1977 sleeper ‘Between the Lines’.
In 1978 Henner landed the breakthrough role of her career as receptionist-turned-cabbie Elaine Nardo in the hit TV sitcom ‘Taxi’, starring alongside such notables as Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Andy Kaufman.
Henner married Frederic Forrest in 1980, but the couple divorced only two years later. A handful of film roles followed, including Blake Edward’s farce ‘The Man Who Loved Woman’ (1983), which starred Burt Reynolds, Kim Basinger and Julie Andrews. Over the next few years, Henner’s body of work ranged from disappointing films like 1985’s ‘Perfect’ (which paired her with former beau John Travolta) to well-received comedies like ‘L.A. Story’ (1991), starring Steve Martin and Patrick Stewart.
In 1990, Henner found renewed success on TV in the sitcom ‘Evening Shade’. She enjoyed a four-year run in her role as Ava Evans Newton, the wife of a high school athletics coach played by Burt Reynolds. In 1994, Henner hosted her own short-lived daily talk show, ‘Marilu’. Later that year, she published a revealing autobiography, ‘By All Means Keep on Moving’, in which she candidly discussed her sexual exploits with many of her Taxi co-stars, including Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch.
She also testified in Washington D.C to support congressional legislation to deal with parents who leave their children. She allowed cameras to follow her through her second pregnancy for a documentary called ‘We’re Having a Baby’. The cameras were there for the whole thing right up to her delivery at 4 in the morning.
In 1999, Henner played herself in the critically acclaimed film ‘Man on the Moon’, which documented the life of former ‘Taxi’ cast member and famed comedian Andy Kaufman. She has co-authored a book on child rearing—‘I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence’ (1999), and published two bestselling guides on health and beauty—‘The 30 Day Total Health Makeover’ (1999) and ‘Healthy Life in the Kitchen’ (2000). She returned to the stage, headlining a national tour of the revival of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’.
Her second marriage broke down in 2001, and she divorced director/producer Robert Lieberman, the father of her two sons, Nicholas and Joseph. Henner continued to pursue her career as a health and wellness expert, publishing several more books on the subject, including 2002’s ‘Healthy Holidays’. She continued to appear on television, serving as host of the PBS series ‘America’s Ballroom Challenge’ and as a contestant on 'The Celebrity Apprentice' in 2008, as well as hosting her own 'The Marilu Show'.
In December 2006, Henner wed Michael Brown, whom she had known in college. Her latest book is called ‘Wear Your Life Well’.