LOS ANGELES - For the third consecutive week, a last-place finish has led to elimination on "Dancing With the Stars."
This week's celebrity casualty was Marlee Matlin, who came into Tuesday's results show with 21 out of 30 points. The actress lost her timing at various points during her mambo Monday with professional partner Fabian Sanchez, and the judges took note.
"You guys looked like you were forcing and struggling," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who noted that the mambo is more rhythm-dependent than other ballroom dances and she expected it to be most difficult for Matlin.
"You did a great job," said head judge Len Goodman, "but it just looked uncomfortable throughout."
Judge Bruno Tonioli noticed "a few stumbles" but still called Matlin's performance "a great achievement."
"What you do here is a plus for the show," he said.
Judges' scores are combined with viewer votes to determine which couple is eliminated each week.
After learning her fate, Matlin, 42, thanked the judges and her partner "for giving me the most beautiful art of dance in my life." She also thanked her family, her children and Henry Winkler, who appeared on Monday's show.
"He has supported me a lot over the years," Matlin said through a sign-language interpreter.
Before she left the ballroom, she got a hug from show host Tom Bergeron, who revealed he is a longtime friend of the Oscar winner.
"I'm going to step out of the host role and say, as a friend, I am so proud of you," Bergeron said as he hugged her.
Tuesday's results show also included a performance by Ashlee Simpson, who flashed her new engagement ring as she sang a track called "Boys" from her new "Bittersweet World" album. The Riverdance Irish step-dancing troupe showed off their fast footwork, and two more teams of tots took the floor in the three-week-old "ballroom kids" competition.
Six celebrity contestants remain on the ABC dance-off, including pro football player Jason Taylor, Olympic skater Kristi Yamaguchi — who has finished in first place throughout the season — R&B singer Mario, and actors Shannon Elizabeth, Cristian de la Fuente and Marissa Jaret Winokur.
Priscilla Presley, Adam Carolla, Steve Guttenberg, Monica Seles and Penn Jillette have already been eliminated.