While Marilu Henner was attending the University of Chicago, she bagged the role of ‘Marty' in the Kingston Mines production of the play ‘Grease’ in 1971. When the show moved to the Broadway, she was asked to reprise the role. But she rejected the offer and instead chose to work in the national touring company.
She moved to New York and bagged her debut Broadway role in ‘Over Here!’ in 1976. Her other Broadway plays include ‘Pal Joey’, ‘Chicago’, ‘Social Security’ and ‘The Tale of the Allergist's Wife’.
In 1977, she made her film debut in ‘Between the Lines’ and was featured in her second film ‘Bloodbrothers’ in 1978. In the same year, she landed the breakthrough role of her career in the popular sitcom ‘Taxi’, in which she played the role of a single mother and cab driver Elaine O'Connor-Nardo who wants to venture into the world of fine arts. She continued her role for five seasons.
She landed the leading female role in the 1982 film ‘Hammett’, directed by Wim Wenders. The following year, she was featured opposite Burt Reynolds in ‘The Man Who Loved Women’, directed by Blake Edwards. She also appeared in ‘Cannonball Run II’ in the same year.
In 1984, she bagged the role of the leading female in the film ‘Johnny Dangerously’ opposite Michael Keaton. In 1990, she returned to TV and found success with her role in ‘Evening Shade’. She continued her role as Ava Evans Newton, the wife of a high school athletics coach for four years.
On September 5, 1994, she published her autobiography, ‘By All Means Keep on Moving’, in which she revealed her relationships with many of her ‘Taxi’ co-stars including Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch.
On May 6, 1998, her book ‘Marilu Henner's Total Health Makeover’ was published, followed by ‘The 30-Day Total Health Makeover’ published on March 3, 1999 and ‘I Refuse To Raise A Brat’ on October 12, 1999.
In 1999, she played herself in the film ‘Man on the Moon’, a movie about the comedian Andy Kaufman. Miloš Forman directed the film which was critically acclaimed.
She also ventured into reality television and hosted the PBS series ‘America's Ballroom Challenge’ from 2006-07. She also competed in the celebrity edition of Donald Trump's ‘The Apprentice’ in 2008 and made it to the 8th week before she was fired. That year, her book ‘Wear Your Life Well: Use What You Have To Get What You Want’ was published.
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In August 2012, she won $25,000 for charity as a celebrity contestant on ‘Live! with Kelly’ ‘Grilling with the Stars’ contest for her healthy grilled mushroom recipe.
She has written nine books on health, diet, and memory, of which ‘Total Health Makeover’ has been the most popular. She also conducts online classes on her website www.marilu.com and helps people eat healthy. She also hosts the television program, ‘The Art of Living’.
She hosts her own show ‘The Marilu Henner Show’, which airs on a number of radio stations across America. Distributed by Sun Broadcast Group and GCN radio, it is aired on weekdays.
She features guest physicians, celebrity guests, and health experts on this show. It is also aired live at Marilushow.com.
Henner helped her husband Michael Brown battle bladder and lung cancer. She chronicled his recovery from cancer in her book ‘Changing Normal: How I Helped My Husband Beat Cancer’. Today, Brown is healthy, thanks to Henner’s diet and healthy lifestyle tips.
In 2014, she did five episodes of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, a police television sitcom that premiered on Fox. She played Vivian Ludley. The series revolved around Jake Peralta, an immature but talented detective in Brooklyn, who comes into conflict with his new commanding officer who is serious and stern.
In 2016, she did two TV films, ‘In-Lawfully Yours’, where she played Naomi and ‘Three Bedrooms, One Corpse: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’, where she portrayed Aida Teagarden.
In 2017, she was featured in the TV series ‘Sizzle Reel-Fantastic Memorylady’ and in the TV film ‘Dead Over Heels: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’.