Marlee and Fabian

June 26, 2008 11:20:50 AM PDT
Earlier this month, Chicago native Marlee Matlin came home to dance and raise money for the organization that helped give the skills to become a star. At 10 years old, Marlee performed in her first stage play, "The Wizard of Oz," at Center on Deafness in the north suburbs. Thirty-two years later, she is back with a whole new outlook on life.

"My life has certainly changed for the better since doing Dancing with the Stars," Matlin said.

Marlee Matlin made a strong impression with her unique dance skills.

"When people say, 'How were you able to dance in ' Dancing with the Stars,' all I can say is, 'You know, the only thing I can't do is hear.' So I can learn to dance as long as I can follow the lead of my partner and with a lot of rehearsal," Matlin said.

Fabian Sanchez, Marlee's dance partner, says it wasn't hard teaching her.

"She really became a great student," Sanchez said. "The only thing that I would have to say is, because she's such a perfectionist and she wants to do things immediately, just like most people, you know, she wants to get it right then and there."

While visiting the International Center on Deafness in the Arts, they gave dance lessons to the center's traveling hand troupe.

"If it weren't for ICODA, I wouldn't be where I am today, sitting here talking to you doing this interview, so ICODA gave me the opportunity to grow into the actor who I am and the individual that I am," said Matlin.

Dr. Patrica Scherer, founder of ICODA, said she always knew Marlee would be a star.

"When she was very, very little I said, 'This child is really talented,' and her mom said, 'Oh, this child is really cute.' I said, 'No, no, really talented. Watch,' and I just knew, because she had an ability to fascinate people, you know, to attract them pull them into whatever she was doing," Scherer said.

Although Marlee's four kids encouraged her to do Dancing with the Stars, Marlee said this was an opportunity for people to really get to know her.

"For example, I mean, I can be very shy, believe it or not, and yet dancing gave me the opportunity to take me out and show the world what I had. This is who I am and a lot of people didn't know that I could be funny, crazy funny," Matlin said.

"You saw on the show she was great, she was great," said Sanchez.

Marlee recently wrote her third book, Leading Ladies. She has several TV roles lined up and plans to take a long overdue family vacation.


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