*Billy Dee Williams miraculously made it to week three of “Dancing with the Stars” before his bad back became too painful to continue.
The veteran actor and “Star Wars” icon withdrew from the competition Monday night because of the lingering arthritis in his back.
“I had a great time,” the star, 77, told People magazine just after announcing his decision to depart. “I had a blast. I wish I could continue.”
Despite coming in with the lowest score just before the first elimination, the fans voted to bring Williams back for another week of competition.
“I’m sorry that I’m not going to be around, but my back just can’t handle it,” he said. “My health is more important.”
Williams’s partner Emma Slater is in full support of the actor’s early exit from ABC’s hit show.
“I knew the back was a problem for Billy,” she told People. “We were already kind of taking it slowly, but for me, surprisingly, this decision wasn’t as difficult as it could have been because it really was the right thing to do. We made peace with that. We more directed it as a celebration of the time we’ve had together.”
Williams, who attributes his back problems to years of film stunts, doesn’t have regrets.
“I can’t say it’s not worth it,” he said. “I did what I did and I had a good time and made a lot of money.”
Although he complained mid-interview that his “back is really hurting,” he explained that he’s “been advised not to do surgery,” adding, “I don’t know what I’m going to do about it.”
Watch Billy Dee’s announcement below.
“Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts was a guest judge on Monday’s broadcast, joining Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.”This is a surreal moment,” said Roberts. She said she’s usually at home with a big bowl of popcorn, her froggy slippers on, ready to tweet her thoughts.
“To experience this electric atmosphere firsthand is remarkable.” But, she added, “It’s a little smaller that I thought. I thought it was a little bit bigger in here!”
The dancing theme Monday was the “most memorable year of their lives.” NeNe Leakes chose 2013, the year she remarried her husband Gregg.
“He gets me,” she said, explaining that they had divorced but decided they belonged together.
She and a shirtless Tony Dovolani danced a slow rumba that Robin said was “so sensual and beautiful.” Bruno raved about “naughty NeNe!” Carrie Ann gave Tony’s body a thumbs-up and praised NeNe for her “beautiful job.” Len liked that it wasn’t “overly raunchy.” Scores: 8, 7, 8, 8 = 31
Watch NeNe’s Rumba below.