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.
Henner’s mother Loretta ran the Henner Dance School for twenty years where Henner took her first dance class at age two. She went on to study with the Illinois Ballet Company before going into theater.
Henner made her Broadway debut in the original production of Grease in 1972. She was also involved on several other Broadway productions, such as 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 became famous with the role of Elaine Nardo in the television series Taxi. She also played the leading role in the 1982 film Johnny Dangerously. Henner also appeared in the movie Man on the Moon (1999), a film about her Taxi co-star Andy Kaufman as both herself and as her Taxi character.
From 1990 to 1994 she starred in the TV show Evening Shade, with Burt Reynolds.
These days Henner is mostly known as a health advocate. She has written several books on healthy eating and diet, the most succesful one 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. She has divorced twice. Her first two marriages to actor Frederic Forrest first, and then director Robert Lieberman, both ended in divorce. In 2006 she married a former college classmate, Michael Brown, in her Los Angeles home. Henner 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