The record field of 16 announced Monday for the fall season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars’’ includes two contestants with relatives who previously competed, along with a highly unexpected entrant - former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Singer Donny Osmond’s sister Marie finished third during the show’s fifth season, while actor-songwriter-comedian Ashley Hamilton’s father, George, finished fifth during the second season.
Like in several past seasons, the field includes a former professional football star, Michael Irvin, and an Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Natalie Coughlin.
Three of the past five champions have been Olympic gold medalists, Apolo Anton Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson, while Irvin’s Dallas Cowboys teammate Emmitt Smith was the third-season champion.
“Dancing with the Stars’’ dipped into the growingly popular sport of mixed martial arts for the first time by selecting former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell as a contestant.
The remaining contestants are singers Macy Gray, Mya, Kelly Osbourne and Aaron Carter, models Kathy Ireland and Joanna Krupa, actresses Melissa Joan Hart and Debi Mazar, “Iron Chef America’’ host Mark Dacascos and professional snowboarder Louie Vito.
But “Dancing with the Stars’’ also went outside its usual choices from entertainment and sports in selecting the 62-year-old DeLay, who served in the House from 1985 until resigning in 2006 after being indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of conspiring to violate state campaign finance laws. The case has not gone to trial.
DeLay’s success as majority whip in getting fellow Republicans to vote the party line earned him the nickname “The Hammer.’' He is currently president of First Principles LLC, a political consulting firm with offices in Washington and Houston.
The “Dancing with the Stars’’ season premiere is set for Sept. 21, the first night of the television season, with eight couples competing during the two-hour episode. The other eight couples will dance during a two-hour episode Sept. 22. Two couples will be eliminated during an hourlong episode Sept. 23.
“Dancing with the Stars’’ is television’s second most-watched series, behind Fox broadcasting’s “American Idol.’'