Mary Lucy "Marilu" Denise Henner was born on April 6, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois and is known for her five-time Golden Globe-nominated TV role as Elaine Nardo on Taxi.
As Henner's mother was president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts and ran the Henner Dance School as a family businnes, Henner took her first dance class at age 2 and was already teaching at the studio and choreographing high school productions by 14. She attended the University of Chicago and played the role of Marty in the Kingston Mines production of Grease in 1971. After Grease's discovery and 1972 Broadway premiere, she would later reprise the role on Broadway.
Henner has appeared a number of times on Broadway over the years, with roles in Over Here! in 1974, Pal Joey in 1976, as Barbara Kahn in 1986's Social Security, and as Roxie Hart in Chicago from 1997 to 1998 (which she reprised on the national tour in 1999). In 2000, she took on the leading role of Annie Oakley in the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun. She next appeared on Broadway when she assumed the role of Lee in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife in 2002.
Henner's career on screen began in 1977, when she landed the role of Danielle in Between the Lines. Following a handful of roles in films and TV movies, including Bloodbrothers in 1978, her big breakthrough came after being cast as Elaine Nardo on the hit ABC sitcom Taxi, and she quickly became an international star. She appeared in a total of 114 episodes between 1978 and 1983 and garnered critical acclaim, with five consecutive Golden Globe nominations from 1979.
After her success with Taxi, Henner furthered her career in film and landed roles in such movies as Hammett (1982), The Man Who Loved Women (1983), Cannonball Run II and Johnny Dangerously (1984), Rustlers' Rhapsody and Perfect (1985), L.A. Story (1991), and Noises Off (1992). She also had a successful run as Ava Evans Newton in the CBS sitcom Evening Shade, starring in 98 episodes from 1990 to 1994. In the 1999 film Man on the Moon, she played herself as an actress on Taxi opposite Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman.
Aside from acting, Henner has enjoyed her status as a New York Times bestselling author, having published 10 books to date. She has also worked as a TV presenter, hosting her own daytime talk show, Marilu, in 1994, and America's Ballroom Challenge in 2006 and 2007, among other TV and radio projects. She appeared as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2008 and on Dancing with the Stars in 2016.
Henner returned to the New York stage from July 19, 2018 to star as Sharon Papadopolous in the Broadway premiere of Gettin' the Band Back Together at the Belasco Theatre. She played her final performance on September 16, 2018.