Marlee Matlin, Dancing with the Stars

ABC/ Kelsey McNeal

So goes the ultra-inspirational portion of our program.

Marlee Matlin, receiver of a standing ovation when all was said and done, was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars Tuesday, leaving six celebs to hoof it out for the disco-ball trophy.

"I had a great time," the Oscar-winning actress, who has been deaf since she was 18 months old, said via her longtime interpreter, Jack Jason. "Thank you to all the fans, to everyone!"

Although she initially won raves for her this-gal-can-do-anything performances (and continued to awe audiences with her smokin' bod), the quicker Latin rounds proved to be a little much for Matlin, whose off-tempo mambo last night only mustered a 21.

"As a friend, I am so proud of you," host Tom Bergeron, forgoing his usual neutrality, told his longtime pal.

Barely escaping danger for the second time was Mario, whose technically proficient rumba apparently proved too racy for mass consumption.

Viewers learned last season, when seeming front-runner Sabrina Bryan went home scandalously early, that a 28 doesn't necessarily mean anything when it comes to fickle fans and their voting habits.

Rewarded for their improved moves, however, were fox-trotter Cristián de la Fuente and Viennese waltzer Marissa Jaret Winokur, who each received their highest scores of the season yesterday, a 27 and 26, respectively.

Although each was the picture of grace and composure last night, both bounced a lot when they heard the good news.

And while the weepy Shannon Elizabeth was down to her last nerve, with both she and Derek Hough very visibly—and audibly—frustrated over last night's 24, the leggy (albeit hipless) brunette was able to dry her eyes early after being the first to be declared safe.

(Nice touch, showing Hough's face covered with lipstick marks after the commercial break.)

Meanwhile, also gliding to safety was Kristi Yamaguchi, she of the perfect scores in both figure skating and ballroom dance after she and partner Mark Ballas Jr. bagged the first 30 of the season with their lively jive.

The ever-popular Jason Taylor also cruised into next week, although a few missteps during his cha-cha resulted in a 24, putting him in second-to-last place on the leaderboard alongside Elizabeth.

Before the ax fell, an engagement ring-sporting (and possibly expecting) Ashlee Simpson performed the tune "Boys" off of her new album, Bittersweet World, which dropped today.

The remaining six celebs will perform two dances apiece next week.

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