Marilu Henner’s Amazing Memory Inspired New Book

By: Amanda Crum - April 24, 2012

In her book “Total Memory Makeover”, Marilu Henner talks about what it’s like to call up any memory from any given day in her life–something she’s been doing for as long…well, as long as she can remember.

In an amazing feat of the mind, Henner was born with a super-memory, able to flip through any date you give her like a photo album in her brain and recall specific things, like the day she found out she got the part of Elaine Nardo on “Taxi”.

“It was June 4 of 1978. It was a Sunday and I found out at the ‘Grease’ premiere party,” Henner 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.”

And it’s not just that she has memorized particular dates and facts; she can rattle off seemingly inane details about a random day on the spot. She says it’s like having mini-movies playing in her head all the time, a revolving reel of images she associates with certain days.

As someone who has recollection issues–I was in a near-fatal car accident in 2001 which splintered my short-term memory–it amazes me that the human brain is capable of such things. It’s hard enough for me to remember what happened last week, let alone last year; I am a feverish documentarian, always anxious to capture on film or disk the cherished moments of my life with my husband and daughter because I know they won’t stay in my mind very long.

For Henner, those moments will forever be encapsulated, available to flip through the way most of us look through photos on our phones. She says the gift of memory has certainly helped her as an actress, as she can call up a particular emotion she may have felt years ago that relates to the character she’s reading for. It also, she says, gives her life an extra bit of meaning.

“It’s that defense against meaninglessness,” she said. “I’m not just occupying time. There’s some significance to what I’m doing and how I’m living my life.”

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Amanda Crum

About the Author

Amanda CrumAmanda Crum is a writer and artist from Kentucky. She's a fan of Edward Gorey, Hunter S. Thompson, and horror movies. You can follow her on Google:+Amanda Crum

View all posts by Amanda Crum
  • ebair

    Though I don’t have Marilu’s skill level, I can randomly remember an entire series of events from a small part of my past. For example, I learned today one of my childhood friends Mom had just passed away. Instantly, I was recalling rapid fire “still shots” of nearly everything we did together during our childhood years. I have not seen this person, or his mother in over 30 years. The images were as if I was there. Fresh and as vivid as when they happened. I seem to have no control of these things. Some trigger sets it off, and I too feel as if I’m either watching a movie, of flipping through a photo album. As far as what happened on what date, I guess that’s where I’m normal. I do not have that part of the “talent” at all. For years I could not understand why my friends didn’t remember the things I did. Some of them now ask me when they wonder how something was many years before…

    • ben

      WAIT A MINUTE! What is her talent again? She can recall every moment of HER life. Recollection that no one else can substantiate? In that case, I can recall every detailed moment in MY life too. She is marketing herself based on something trivial.

      • Rzar

        They have done tests with her to check her memory. Barbara Walters did a special on people with extraordinary memories, it’s not that difficult to substantiate.

    • Alice

      I have the talent you are describing. Although I can’t call up specific dates, I remember insignificant details that other people don’t, such as the clothes people were wearing or comments they made 40 years ago on an ordinary day. I have learned not to share the information because people think it is weird and wonder why I remember a lot of little things about them. It is frustrating when other people have no memory of something I can vividly recall, and it is a really weird feeling and makes me feel like I came from outer space!

  • Thomas Vaught

    All the women I married have exceptional memories. They could remember the exact moment I messed anything up. Oh, I guess that’s normal. Marilu Henner would probably drive me crazy, unless she’s as nice as she appears to be.

  • Lee

    An actress with a perfect memory? So when does she get a guest spot on CBS’s “Unforgettable?” She can play the LA equivalent of the NY cop with the perfect memory. Then, when the franchise expands to “Unforgettable: LA,” they’ll be all set!

    • Sharon

      She has already guest starred on ‘Unforgettable’.

      I met her once… I would love to meet up with her again and see if she can remember meeting me.

    • Diane

      She guest-starred on episode 9 (11/11) as Carrie’s aunt, who was beginning to lose her memory.

    • Anon

      Not only did she have a guest-starring role on “Unforgettable”, she is also a consultant for the show. She and Poppy Montgomery discuss how the scenes should be played out and everything. The series is meant to show out exactly how people like Marilu can recall everything. I think it’s very well-done and wish I had her kind of memory!:)

  • jeff

    I would like to hear the one about the spaceman and what got her into scientology…have not seen any mention of that one and I doubt she forget

  • eric

    Actually, there have been only 12 cases of hyperthymesia documented in the world, and Marilu is one of them. Ebair(above) — maybe you are the 13th! My brother and sister-in-law are friends with Marilu, and all of this is true. And yes, she is as nice and genuine in “real life” as she seems to be when on camera.

  • Will

    Wait a minute – she’s marketing a book, supposedly to help people with memory. She has a photographic memory – either you have it, or you don’t.

    This would be more of an inspiration if it was someone who had a lousy memory, and then came up with tips to have a better life.

  • Susie

    I have a memory like an elephant and can recall conversations like it was just yesterday. My 91 year old mom can recall like me although her memory is selective. If she didn’t like her dinner she doesn’t remember what she had and if she liked it she remembers it.

  • lisa

    miss marilu your book sounds amazing! i was in a car accident spun on ice and now im trying to find my memory i get nurses to help me but your book on the tv and reading those messages by web users opened my eyes more thank u to everyone who wrote about it too i will admitt that after the car accident ive been scared now i cant wait to see what everyones talking about God Bless u all

  • http://maryluhenner jackie and barbara smith

    we met on april of 2008 at a book sigh.we went sirpose to met again
    today on 4/25/2012 but my friend got sick. witch book store are you
    going to be next time in newjersey.let me know from my email on
    top mrs z

  • alex

    Amazing.This lovely woman can become a great scientist or artists.

  • alex

    Amazing woman.She can be a great scientist or artist.Both fields require extraordinary memory.

  • Lodie Fuller

    Oh, I must get Marilu’s book…what a gift she has. At 84, I’m doing that “what am I
    doing in here” stuff and not liking that one
    bit! Hurray for continued learning.