She behaved like an Olympic champion and toughed it out, but Dorothy Hamill was in rough shape for Monday night's Dancing With The Stars. Even with all the adrenaline that goes along with performing live, it was obvious that she was having difficulty walking, let alone dancing.
"It's a cyst on the lumbar spine and it's pinching a nerve," Hamill said moments after the show. She's had the cyst before she joined the cast, but the demands of ballroom dancing have dramatically increased the discomfort. When the nerve in her lower back is pinched, she loses balance on her right foot.
She also lost two days of rehearsal time this week, which may be the other reason why she landed at the bottom of the leader board. (She and her pro partner, Tristan MacManus, received only 15 points for their jive.) So is Hamill thinking about quitting? "I don't give up," she says. "I made the commitment to do the show and I love it. And as long as I'm not doing anything to make things worse, I want to continue. I really want to learn how to dance and I don't want to leave."
But behind the scenes, show staffers say that Hamill wanted to use Monday night's show to assess whether or not she should continue. They worried when she was a no-show for Monday's all-important dress rehearsals. "She wasn't here today," said one, shaking his head. "Only yesterday."
"It's tough, and I feel responsible," says MacManus, who had to find creative ways to teach Hamill the steps to the jive when she had trouble moving. "I certainly wouldn't want to put anyone in jeopardy, and I'm not in a position to make medical decisions. At the same time, we have to be honest with ourselves. The decision will be made by Dorothy herself, whether she wants to do this or not."