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Marilu Henner's Incredible Memory — and Her Tips for Improving Yours

Unable to forget anything, the actress is a consultant on the CBS crime drama 'Unforgettable'

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Marilu Henner with Ashton Kutcher and Hilary Duff in Two and a Half Men

Marilu Henner, Hilary Duff and Ashton Kutcher on "Two and a Half Men." — CBS

I loved Marilu Henner's recent appearance as Linda, the sophisticated grandmother of Hilary Duff's character on Two and a Half Men: Ashton Kutcher's Walden Schmidt finds her so irresistible he forgets all about her vapid granddaughter.

Henner, a trim 61, makes Kutcher's memory lapse easy to believe. And he's not the only Hollywood type pursuing her these days: Henner hosts an eponymous talk show on the Genesis Communications Network; she appeared on the 13th season of Celebrity Apprentice this spring; and she'll be a strong presence on series TV this summer, with recurring roles in The Glades (A&E) and Unforgettable (CBS).

Of Henner's current projects, Unforgettable is closest to her heart — and brain: Her Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory was one inspiration for the crime drama, which she supports as both technical consultant and occasional guest star. (Henner plays Edie Tripp, the Alzheimer's-afflicted aunt of the protagonist, an NYPD detective with near-total recall.)

Though Unforgettable was canceled by executive fiat last year, it was resuscitated by popular demand. That may explain the unusual timing of its third-season debut: July 28.

"There's a lot more memory stuff this season," reports Henner. "Now that the audience has known this character [Poppy Montgomery's Carrie Wells] for a year, we can have more fun with her. You'll see her do some of the things I do: spitting information back at people, retaining details about people when I meet them. It's a lot of fun."

And yes, strangers do stop Henner in the street to test her memory. "Most people give me their birth date, and I tell them what day of the week that was. Then I'll turn that around and tell them the day of their 16th or 21st birthday. That gets them trying to figure out what they were doing that day."

Henner rises at 4 a.m. to do her radio show, then moves on to other tasks — and also finds time for family with husband Michael Brown, the former University of Chicago classmate she wed in 2006, and her two teenage sons from her second marriage. "I've never been much of a sleeper," she confesses. "Five to six hours a night is enough for me."

Juggling multiple assignments may be bred in the bone for Marilu Henner. "I grew up in a crazy family, with a lot of businesses going on under our roof," she recalls (perfectly, of course). "My mother had a dancing school in the backyard and a beauty shop in the kitchen. My uncle taught art classes upstairs. We also had the neighborhood astrologist, and ran a cat hospital on the roof."

Hmm, cats in the belfry? Somehow that explains a lot. — Stacy Jenel Smith

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MEM'RIES — THE WAY WE ARE: Pultizer Prize-winning cartoonist Walt Handelsman begins a series of 'Toons about the vicissitudes of aging, and the need for keeping our sense of humor during the process. Laugh along with him, and share his videos with your friends.

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