Forty years later, Buzz Aldrin is still the second man out.
"I did the best I could under the circumstances," admitted Aldrin, 80, during Tuesday night's broadcast in reaction to his disappointing performance of the waltz on Monday.
"I don't feel so good," he said offstage. "I was hoping to do much better this week."
Charming, but alarming
Meeting the judges' challenge to perform a dance that tells a story, Aldrin, in his U.S. Air Force "Mess Dress" uniform including his Presidential Medal of Freedom, performed to the song "What a Wonderful World."
"The story is you coming home from war and I am your daughter waiting for you," explained Ashly Costa, Aldrin's 27-year old dancing partner.
"Our story is a blending together of departing a patriotic duty to a welcoming home with a great optimism for the future," added Aldrin in a taped segment that aired prior to his taking to the floor.
Unfortunately, the show's three judges didn't share in the dance's optimism for Aldrin's future on the show [Aldrin on the moon].
Praising Aldrin's appearance as "royal, dignified... almost monumental," judge Bruno Toniol ultimately criticized the astronaut's lack of fluidity. "When you started to move, well, it didn't really go anywhere."
Fellow judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she didn't really know if Aldrin's dancing had improved, but focused her critique on the story that Aldrin and Costa presented. "I believed you completely in the role of the father coming home from war to see his daughter."
"It worked in your advantage," she added, "because the older man might be little stiffer. You did it very, very well."
Len Goodman did away with any such pleasantries. "The thing is, we're judging a dancing competition here and the technique was poor, the routine was oversimplified, and there wasn't a lot of performance there in the dance."
For the third straight week, the judges' score put Aldrin at the bottom of the show's leaderboard, earning him just 13 out of a possible 30 points.
Goodman summarized his fellow judges' thoughts during Tuesday's broadcast:
"Buzz did the waltz, he told a really good story but that is about all it had to it. The story was charming, the dancing was alarming."
A wonderful experience
Goodman said he was surprised however, that Aldrin was up for elimination.
"I am surprised, and I am little bit disappointed because I thought Buzz, [though] maybe not the judges favorite, but I was sure America was going to save you."
Aldrin's fans had successfully rescued the astronaut from being the first to be eliminated by voting for him by phone, text message and online. Their effort was apparently not enough for the second week.
Upon hearing he had been eliminated, Costa turned to her dancing partner, hugged him and said "I'm proud of you."
The studio audience, including Aldrin's fellow competitors, shared their respect, responding with a standing ovation.
"I did this show for the fighter pilots out there, the military people, and the elder geezers like me who would just like to see an elder come back, week after week," said Aldrin before dancing a final dance to close out his appearance on the show. "I am interested also in having the public be thankful for the successes we had in the Apollo program and look forward to even greater successes in our future space program."
"That's why I came onboard... to take the challenge and take the risk and I thank everyone who voted for us."
Host Tom Bergeron concluded the evening by sharing his memories of watching Aldrin walk on the Moon. "I never thought I would have this honor. It has been a pleasure sir to have you on this show," he told Aldrin.
"It has been a wonderful experience for me," replied the astronaut.
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