Maybe it was the mustache.
Maybe it was the help of a male professional ballroom dancer.
Whatever it was, former Dalton resident J.R. Martinez survived the fourth elimination round on ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars” Tuesday night. Chynna Phillips was sent home.
Martinez and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, finished with the second highest score from the judges on Monday night. Their 26 points out of 30 were three behind leader Ricki Lake, an actress and former talk show host, and her partner Derek Hough. In each of the four performances, Martinez has been in the top two of the judges’ scoring. Overall scoring is a combination of points from the judges and fan voting.
Last week, Martinez delivered an emotional rumba that built upon his story of being seriously injured in Iraq to his long recovery from the physical and emotional scars. During “movie week,” Martinez danced a fox trot to the theme from “The Pink Panther.” Wearing a black top hat, pink tails and a mustache, Martinez revealed his humorous side on the dance floor.
In footage shown before the performance, Martinez struggled to master the nuances of the fox trot. At one point, Smirnoff used the word “horrible” to describe his dancing.
“I don’t like anything about the fox trot,” Martinez said.
Smirnoff brought in Nick Kosovich, a male professional ballroom dancer, to give Martinez pointers.
After the performance, two of the three judges were impressed.
“You are a great dancer of ability and versatility,” Bruno Tonioli said. “You can do drama, you can do comedy, you can do Latin music, you can do ballroom.”
Len Goodman called Martinez the best male dancer of the night.
“This is fabulous,” Goodman said.
However, judge Carrie Ann Inaba said the performance was “OK” and contained too much humor.
“For some reason, this performance fell a little flat for me,” Inaba said.
Goodman disagreed, saying it had “just enough” humor.
A 2002 graduate of Dalton High School, Martinez is known nationally as a motivational speaker. He played the character of “Brot Monroe” for the past three years on the ABC soap opera “All My Children.”
Nine couples remain in the competition. Performances continue Monday night. Tuesday night, another pair will be eliminated based on the judges’ scores and the fan voting.