Los Angeles - I have to admit I felt kind of horrible last night. The press line can be a tough walk for any celebrity dancer that didn't do so well. However last night it wasn't a matter of performance, it was a matter of bowing out gracefully, and Dorothy Hamill did it so well.
Let me set the scene for you. We all line up in an orderly fashion and wait for the dancers to exit through a huge door that leads to the dance floor. The ABC Publicists as well as the celebs' publicists give us the heads up when they are heading our way. Since we're an ABC affiliate, we were second in line, right behind KABC reporter George Pennacchio, who's been covering the show since its very first season.
We get the high sign and that is when we see Dorothy and her partner Tristan MacManus slowly walk from behind the door. You can tell Dorothy has been crying. However this is part of the show. The first couple eliminated, or in this case withdrawing, has to face the music so to speak. The lights, cameras and the barrage of the same questions over and over again.
George asked about five questions or so and then it was my turn. Before we started the interview, Dorothy Hamill reached over to me, gave me a hug, and said, "I'm so sorry Baltimore."
It was heartbreaking to hear her say that and watch the tears roll down her cheeks. Tristan held onto her closely and helped her fill in the gaps. She said she wasn't even aware of how serious her condition was until she saw the X-rays.
She had to make a choice and it wasn't an easy one. She could continue to dance and enjoy the show and the new friendships she'd made or she could walk and hopefully continue to do that.
She couldn't risk losing her ability to walk and skate -- her first love.
I only asked her a few more questions, and then I was off to get ready for my live shot at 11. As I walked away she walked on to the next reporter waiting in line to ask her virtually the same questions over and over again. By the time she'd reached the end of the line, I'm told she was in so much pain she was in a chair with an ice pack on her pack.
Before this trip to L-A, I'd never met Dorothy Hamill. She was the cute little gal from the Olympics with an iconic hair cut and beautiful smile. After meeting her and spending some time with her, I'd have to say she is a real class act.
One of the last things she said to me with a smile and tears still streaming, "Hey make sure you folks in Baltimore vote for Jacoby, I will be."