Born Mary Lucy Denise Henner in Chicago, Illinois to a Greek mother and Polish father, Henner was raised on the northwest side of the city in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Her mother Loretta was president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts and ran the Henner Dance School (“disguised as a three-car garage”) for twenty years. Henner took her first dance class at age two and, like all the Henner children, began teaching classes herself at 14. She went on to study with the Illinois Ballet Company before going into theater.
She made her Broadway debut in the original production of Grease in 1972. Additional Broadway credits include Over Here!, during which her longtime friendship with John Travolta began, revivals of Pal Joey and Chicago, and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.
Henner came to national prominence with the role of Elaine Nardo in the television series Taxi. She was the leading lady in the 1982 film Johnny Dangerously, playing the love interest to Michael Keaton. She also appeared in Man on the Moon (1999), a film about her Taxi co-star Andy Kaufman as both herself and as her Taxi character.
From 1990 through 1994 she appeared opposite Burt Reynolds in the TV show Evening Shade, which also starred Ossie Davis and Hal Holbrook.
Henner is currently known best as a health advocate. She has authored six books on diet and health, the most prominent being Total Health Makeover, in which she explains the virtues of a non-dairy diet in conjunction with food combining & exercise.
In her autobiography, “By All Means, Keep on Moving”, Henner discussed her many romances including, most notably, actors John Travolta, John Schneider, and her Taxi costars Judd Hirsch and Tony Danza. Her first two marriages to actor Frederic Forrest and director Robert Lieberman ended in divorce. She married Michael Brown, a former college classmate, on December 21, 2006, before one hundred people in her Los Angeles home. It was the second for Brown, who has three children from his prior marriages. She has two children, Nicholas Morgan, and Joseph Marlon, from her marriage to Lieberman.
“Ken made the character Greek because I’m Greek”
Marilu Henner about the character she plays at the Broadway musical Gettin’ the Band Back Together
Is Marilu Henner Greek?
Marilu Henner is half Greek. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Loretta Callis (born Nikoleta Kalogeropoulos), and Joseph Henner (whose surname was originally Pudlowski). Her maternal grandparents were Greek and her paternal grandparents were Polish. Henner was raised on the northwest side of Chicago in the Logan Square neighborhood.
— Marilu Henner (@TheRealMarilu) November 3, 2013
— Marilu Henner (@TheRealMarilu) May 14, 2017