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October 09, 2019

‘Taxi’ Star Marilu Henner: Her Career and Life Dealing with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory

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Marilu Henner, the actress and author best known as Elaine O'Connor Nardo on “Taxi,” has been living with a rare condition affecting about 60 people in the world: Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory.

Although Henner is mainly recognized for her role on “Taxi” next to Judd Hirsch, she has had a very successful career in Broadway plays and has appeared in some other TV shows and films.

Marilu Henner on August 03, 2019 in Universal City, California | Source: Getty Images


Marilu Henner’s career

Her career began in 1971 when she originated the role of Marty in the Kingston Mines production of “Grease.” After that, she worked in popular plays such as “Over Here!” “Chicago,” “Social Security,” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.”

In 1978, she was cast as the divorced mother of two Elaine O’Connor on “Taxi.” The show followed the everyday lives of a group of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher.


After its five seasons and more than 100 episodes, the show was canceled in 1983. Henner kept working on different projects on both the small and big screen, including “Perfect” and “Who’s the Boss.”

In 1990, she landed her second leading role on a long-running show: Ava Evans on “Evening Shade.” In it, she worked next to Burt Reynolds, Michael Jeter, and Hal Holbrook until the sitcom’s cancelation in 1994.


Her time on “Dancing with the Stars”

Nowadays, she is still quite active in the entertainment industry, taking gigs in several made-for-television films, including the Hallmark mystery movies of Aurora Teagarden.

Henner even participated in season 23 of “Dancing with the Stars.” Dancing next to Derek Hough, they made their way up to the sixth place after being eliminated in the ninth week.


Living with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory

Even though she has had a very successful career in the entertainment industry, several people know her for her rare condition called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM).

According to The Healthy, only around 60 people in the world were known to have it as of 2017. In short, people with HSAM can remember nearly every day of their lives with precise detail.


During an interview that Henner had with 60 Minutes Australia, she shared some details about her case, confessing that some of the things she could remember about her whole life would come up “right away,” while some others come up slowly.

When asked about a specific date (September 8, 1985), the actress explained that the way her memory works is by organizing that year in a timeline and, somehow, she sees the whole calendar fall into place.


"When somebody gives me a date or a year or something, I see all these little movie montages, basically on a time continuum, and I'm scrolling through them and flashing through them."

One of the most common characteristics of people with HSAM is that they are very organized. In Henner’s case, she has a color-ordered wardrove with her shoes placed in a specific way.


Henner consider it is a blessing

While it might seem like HSAM is a blessing, some of the people dealing with the condition pointed out that the bad memories never go away either, so moving forward is nearly impossible.

For Henner, her disorder is a blessing as she considers that she can carry all of her life lessons. She also takes her time on Twitter to funnily reply to some of the people who mention her incredible memory.


Apart from that, she believes that “understanding your past is the best way to prepare for the future.”

Her ability is especially helpful when it comes to her job as an actress as remembering her lines is quite easy. However, the best aspect of it is that she can employ her memory to help her embody a character.

“Definitely being an actress, I learned how to embrace my memories and celebrate them and explore them without hesitation whatsoever."

At the moment, Henner is married to Michael Brown and has to children. She is still active in the entertainment industry, being “The Neighborhood” the most recent TV show she worked on and “Imperfections” the last film.


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