Dancing With The Stars Season 18 Cast: Olympic stars, athletic heroes, and TV favorites

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Good Morning America's Lara Spencer (left) poses with the Spring 2014 Season 18 DWTS cast: Standing: Emma Slater, Billy Dee Wiliams, Danica McKellar, Vel Chmerkovskiy, Sean Avery, Candace Cameron Bure, Maks Chmerkovskiy, Meryl Davis, Nene Leakes, Tony Dovoloni, Sharna Burgess, Charlie White, Cheryl Burke, Drey Carey, Diana Nyad, Herny Byalikov, host Erin Andrews. Sitting: Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Peta Murgatroyd, James Maslow, Witney Carson, Cody Simpson, host Tom Bergeron (front).
Good Morning America's Lara Spencer (left) poses with the Spring 2014 Season 18 DWTS cast: Standing: Emma Slater, Billy Dee Wiliams, Danica McKellar, Vel Chmerkovskiy, Sean Avery, Candace Cameron Bure, Maks Chmerkovskiy, Meryl Davis, Nene Leakes, Tony Dovoloni, Sharna Burgess, Charlie White, Cheryl Burke, Drey Carey, Diana Nyad, Herny Byalikov, host Erin Andrews. Sitting: Karina Smirnoff, Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Peta Murgatroyd, James Maslow, Witney Carson, Cody Simpson, host Tom Bergeron (front).

SAN DIEGO, March 4, 2014 –  “Dancing With The Stars” reamins one of America’s most popular reality TV shows with strong and steady ratings. Others will come and go, but there’s nothing quite like the glamour of the ballroom.

Coming to the ballroom for Season 18 of the show are two big Winter Olympic Games stars, several well –known TV personalities. Inspirational athletic heroes, and an array of athletes and performers.

Announced Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the 12 celebrities competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy this season are (in alphabetical order):

Sean Avery—  Sean Avery played professional hockey for 12 years with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, and New York Rangers. He is the type of tough guy player known as an “enforcer” and was controversial both on and off the ice. He isn’t your typical hockey player. He also worked as a intern at Vogue Magazine under infamous editor Anna Wintour, and has worked as a model.. Avery partners with Karina Smirnoff.


Candan Cameron Bure — Candace Cameron Bure is an actress, author and inspirational speaker. Her best-known role is D.J. Tanner on the TV series “Full House.” Mostly recently, Cameron Bure starred in the Hallmark Original Movie “Let It Snow.” Cameron Bure and her husband, former NHL star Val Bure have three children and run a family owned wine label, Bure Family Wines. Cameron Bure partners with Mark Ballas.

Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke have fun at their photo shoot. Photo: Courtesy ABC

Drew Carey — Drew Carey is host of the immensely popular long running game show, “The Price is Right,” which he took over in July 2007 after Bob Barker retired. He is a successful stand-up comedian and actor, and had the distinction of having two hit shows simultaneously: the long-running comedy “The Drew Carey Show.”  Carey’s Price Is Right studios are right next door to the DWTS ballroom, so it will be an easy commute. Carey partners with Cheryl Burke.

Meryl Davis — Meryl Davis, 27, and her partner Charlie White, 26, are the longest-running ice dancing partnership in the history of American figure skating. David and White are the 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists, 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists and 2011 and 2013 World Champions. Davis and White are also six-time (2009-2014) U.S. Champions, and five-time (2001-2013) Grand Prix Final Champions. Davis is currently a student at the University of Michigan. In one of the show’s most intriguing pairings this season, Davis partners with Maks Chmerkovskiy.

Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis will compete against her partner Charlie White on Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars,.
Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis will compete against her partner Charlie White on Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars. Photo: ABC.

Nene Leakes – The outspoken, outrageous Nene Leakes became a fan favorite on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Her popularity led to her own Bravo television series “I Dream of Nene: The Wedding.” In 2012, she played coach Roz Washington on “Glee” and landed a starring role on NBC’s sitcom “The New Normal.” Leakes has also guest-starred in BET comedies and has competed on “The Celebrity Apprentice Leakes resides in Duluth, Georgia., a suburb of Atlanta, along with her two children and husband Gregg Leakes. Leakes partners with Tony Dovoloni.

James Maslow— James Maslow is best known as the star of the TV series “Big Time Rush” and as a member of the worldwide bestselling music group of the same name.  Maslow began his acting career on the popular series “iCarly” and completed the fourth season of “Big Time Rush” last year. As one of the most popular music groups internationally, Big Time Rush has won countless Kids’ Choice Awards, and a 2012 Parade Magazine poll named Big Time Rush the “Best Boy Band in the World,” topping other well-known bands such as One Direction and The Wanted. Maslow began performing at an early age, training at the prestigious La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, and the Coronado School of the Arts. Maslow partners with Peta Murgatroyd.

Danica McKellar— Danica McKellar is best known as Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years” and Elsie Snuffin on “The West Wing.” She is a bestselling author with her three books encouraging girls to pursue math and science education and careers. She is also the author of Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA, McKellar wrote a theorem that has been dubbed, “The Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem,” and was published in Britain’s esteemed Journal of Physics. McKellar partners with Val Chmerkovskiy.

Diana Nyad — 25 million people worldwide rooted for Diana Nyad last September as she approached the Florida shore, at long last achieving her 35-year-old dream of becoming the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida on her fifth attempt at age 64. Nyad stroked the amazing 110.86 miles in 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds. Nyad works as a sports broadcaster for NPR, Fox Sports, and ABC. She is a uniquely entertaining and inspiring public speaker. Nyad will dance with first time professional partner Henry Byalikov, promoted from the professional troupe.

Amy Purdy — Amy Purdy lost her legs at 19 as a result of meningitis, She is currently training for the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia as one of world’s top ranked adaptive snowboarders, a three-time World Cup Para-snowboard winner. Purdy is the Co-Founder of Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization which helps disabled youth, adults and wounded veterans get involved in action sports. Purdy has been featured in a Madonna music video, a lead acting role in an award winning independent film and multiple modeling projects. In 2013, Purdy was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the top 15 most marketable paraathletes in the world.  Purdy partners with current DWTS champion Derek Hough.

Cody Simpson – The 17 year old pop star is a social media darling with 6.4 million Twitter followers, over 6.7 million Facebook likes and nearly 200 million YouTube views. Simpson recently released “The Acoustic Sessions” EP that followed the release of his second album, 2013’s “Surfers Paradise” that debuted top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and features the Top 40 hit single “Pretty Brown Eyes.” He recently wrapped his sold out US and Canadian Acoustic Sessions Tour and had previously been touring with Justin Bieber on Bieber’s Believe Tour. Simpson will dance with professional partner Witney Carson.

Can Olympic gold medalist Charlie White translate his skills from ice to the ballroom floor on Dancing With the Stars? Photo: ABC.
Can Olympic gold medalist Charlie White translate his skills from ice to the ballroom floor on Dancing With the Stars? Photo: ABC.

Charlie White – The other half of the Olympic Gold Medal winning ice dancing team with partner Meryl Davis, this pair dominated the international skating scene the past few seasons, standing atop the podium at all six competitions they entered in 2013. By winning the 2013 World Championships, the team made figure skating history, becoming the only U.S. ice dancing team to ever win two World titles. White is an avid sports fan, particularly hockey. White is currently a student at the University of Michigan and hopes to attend law school in the future. White partners with Sharna Burgess.

Billy Dee Williams — Legendary leading man Billy Dee Williams has been called the ‘black Clark Gable,’ especially after his co-starring role in “Lady Sings the Blues” opposite Diana Ross. He played the scoundrel Lando Calrissian in the “Star Wars” movie series.  “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “The Return of the Jedi.”  Williams has appeared in dozens of film roles, his most recent in the blockbuster film “The Lego Movie.” In 2006, the NAACP recognized Williams for his immense contribution to the arts by awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Williams is also a very accomplished artist and has a painting on display at the Smithsonian. Williams partners with Emma Slater.

In a first for DWTS, producers have introduced a twist into the competition they call “The Switch Up.” Viewers will be given the power to vote and change celebrities and professional dance pairings. This new rule will affect all couples as they will be required to switch partners at some point in the season.

Will the fans throw the celebrities a challenge? Put unlikely pairings together? Toss challenges in front of the favorites or try and derail the competition? Viewers will find out when “Dancing With The Stars: Season 18” debuts on Monday, March 18, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Who is your early favorite? Vote in our poll and tell us why in the Comments section.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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