Marilu Henner & Derek Hough Honor Her Late Mother on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

Marilu Henner and Derek Hough are trying new tactics for success on Dancing With the Stars. With Henner’s ability to remember every single day in her life, Hough has decided to minimize the amount of information he gives her in hopes that she focuses on the important aspects of each performance. Tonight, however, the focus will be Marilu Henner’s late mother Loretta as tonight’s theme is the “Most Memorable Year” of each contestant’s life.

According to the above Instagram photo caption, Henner’s mother actually helped her daughter land the role that made Henner famous, becoming a cast member of the show Taxi. The year was 1978 and it was a few weeks after her mother died that Henner had her final audition for Taxi. When walking into the audition, she recalls saying, “Mom, let’s do this together.” Tony Danza revealed that Henner’s being on the show was what her mother had wanted, so Henner turned it into a tribute to her late mom.

People reports that Henner’s mother died at the age of 58 years old, from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. Henner’s father Joseph Henner died of a heart attack at the age of 52. The deaths of Henner’s parents in their 50’s inspired her to live a healthy lifestyle, telling Ellen DeGeneres in 2009:

I never mind telling my age because I’m in the health business so its really good for that, but the other thing is that my mother died at 58 and my father died at 52 and my mother’s heath at my age was so completely different. So completely different and I used their death as an incentive to totally change my life and when I think about my mom dying from arthritis and on her walker and everything else, its a completely different, so I feel like I’m honoring them by getting healthy. You know?

Marilu Henner is 64 years old, born on April 6, 1952.

For tonight’s big performance, Henner and Hough are dancing the Viennese Waltz to “Surprise Yourself” by Jack Garratt.