Marie says her father—with whom she shares a birthday—had been planning to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show with the rest of the family. After his death, Marie says the family discussed whether or not to appear on the show. "We talked about it, and my father would want us all to be here," she says.
Marie—a self-proclaimed Daddy's little girl—had dedicated her dance on Dancing with the Stars to her father the night before he died. "He saw it that night and they said he got up the next morning and it was one of the best days he had," she says. "He took a shower, he sat down on his bed, he laid down with a smile and he passed away. And he wanted to dance with my mom. So he moved on."
Marie's mom, Olive, died on Mother's Day in 2004. "He didn't want to be outdone," she jokes. "He wanted to be talked about on Oprah."
Despite the family's pain, Marie says everyone is grateful for the chance to be together on the show. "This is a rare moment. We won't always have everybody. There will be a few that have to work or whatever," she says. "And this kind of an opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime."
To thank Oprah for that opportunity, Marie has a special gift for her—a one-of-a-kind doll of Oprah as a child. "We love you as a family," she says. "I'm a child advocate with Children's Miracle Network. You're a child's advocate. Who knew that that little baby would do so much to change the world?"