The beloved Cheers star takes the news like a gentleman and exits stage left

By Maureen Harrington
Updated May 02, 2007 08:30 AM

John Ratzenberger left Dancing With the Stars like a gentleman on Tuesday night – without complaint and with a lady on his arm.

The 60-year-old, silver-haired actor, who’d taken merciless teasing about his age all season, nodded and smiled quietly when he and partner Edyta Sliwinska were eliminated from the ABC dance competition.

Unlike his 1980’s alter ego, the melancholy mailman Cliff Claven on TV’s Cheers, Ratzenberger took his disappointing news without a beer chaser. Calling Sliwinska “a lovely lady who put up with me,” he shook hands all around.

Everyone, including the judges, seemed sad to see Ratzenberger go. (In the audience’s front row: retired Texas congressman Charlie Wilson, soon to be played by Tom Hanks in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War with Julia Roberts.)

But there was no escaping the fact that Ratzenberger’s scores hadn’t been stellar in the last few rounds, while other competitors were surging ahead in the numbers game. Still, “He added a lot to the group,” said Billy Ray Cyrus. “We’ll miss him. He’s a good sport.”

Ratzenberger’s last dance of the evening was that eternal wedding favorite, the bunny hop. And his next step? He said later, “Now I want to devote time to my charity, the Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajigs Foundation. We’re trying to get kids involved with working with their hands, learning basic skills.”