Former Taxi Star's Rare Brain Condition Has A Special Purpose

You may remember Marilu Henner from her role as Elaine on the TV show Taxi. Or even more recently from Dancing With The Stars. But what you may not realize is that former Taxi star Marilu Henner has an extremely rare brain condition -- one that played a very important role in her marriage!


Credit: ABC News


One Of Twelve


Marilu Henner has what's called hyperthymesia, also known as a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. It means she's able to remember, in impressive detail, just about every single day of her life. For example, off the top of her head, Marilu can recall the exact day she landed her role on Taxi, which aired from 1978-1983.

"It was June 4 of 1978. It was a Sunday and I found out at the 'Grease' premiere party,'" she said. "Taxi is so vivid to my mind. The very first rehearsal was July the 5th of 1978. That was a Wednesday and our first show was shot the 14th, a Friday."




Marilu says the ability is akin to a scene selection menu on a DVD, with "little videos moving simultaneously." She selects the specific memory from the "menu" in her mind, and then she watches the memory much like a movie.

"Whenever I go back into memory, I'm always in my body looking out," she explains.


Her earliest memory is of her baptism.


"I just remember the water, and I remember the white," she said.


Marilu explains her “super memory” in the video below:



Former Taxi star Marilu Henner is one of only 12 people in the world with this ability. This kind of instant access to emotional memories has certainly served her well in her chosen career as an actress. But the star says this God given special ability is much more than just a parlor trick. It has served a vital role in her life, and in her marriage!


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A Bigger Purpose


There are certain things in life that suggest God has a sense of humor. Like, say, the fact that Marilu Henner is married to a man who makes a living publishing calendars -- something she has no use for! But Marilu's talent played an even bigger part in her marriage to Michael Brown.


Michael and Marilu actually met back in college, but lost touch over the years. It wasn't until later in life (and after divorce) that Michael called Marilu out of the blue and the two fell in love. As it turned out, the timing was perfect.


Just two months into their relationship, Michael was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Because of her own rare condition, coupled with her late parents' medical struggles, Marilu has become a huge advocate of healthy living.


Her journey and her star status has allowed her access to some of the best doctors. And it's those connections that helped save Michael's life.


“Thank God he called me when he did,” Marilu says now of the spontaneous call that sparked their romance. “I really thought I could help him. It wasn’t grandiose — I’m just connected to these incredible doctors.”


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Marilu was by Michael's side the entire time he battled cancer, and he's now 12 years in remission! The two share the whole experience in their book, Changing Normal: How I Helped My Husband Beat Cancer.



But Marilu doesn't believe it's just her husband who can benefit from her experience. While her extreme autobiographical memory is a special gift, she believes she can use it to help others "improve their own brains". The star, who helped raise $100,000 for the Alzheimer's Association, has developed her own tips for improving memory.

Go to the next page to get Marilu's tips!