Harper, who was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, was paired with dancing pro Tristan MacManus for the competition and they performed a Viennese waltz for their last number, set to the song “Carry On” by the band fun.
[Editor's note: The original story incorrectly stated the nature of Valerie Harper's illness.]
When she received the news that she was leaving the show, according to USA Today, Harper said, “It has been absolutely wonderful. Completely unique. Like nothing else in the world that you would ever do. And it was an opportunity for me to carry a message to folks, not just with cancer, but with whatever challenge, like our song tonight – carry on, carry on.”
“I think maybe life’s a little bit better since I met Valerie Harper,” MacManus said of his partner.
Meanwhile, her fellow contestants praised Harper in interviews with Entertainment Weekly.
“I hope to God I can be half the inspiration she is,” Bill Engvall said. “I kind of wish they’d have just given her the trophy.”
Two contestants were eliminated before Harper, with NFL player Keyshawn Johnson leaving on Sept. 23 and TV science host Bill Nye departing on Sept. 30.
Before performing her routine, Harper said, “I am not at all ready to quit,” noting that she and MacManus had received low scores lately but saying she wanted to improve.
Former “DWTS” participant Julianne Hough returned for the show on Monday as a judge, subbing in for Len Goodman.
After Harper and MacManus did their routine, Hough called it "beautiful," but judge Carrie Ann Inaba said the dance had “some beautiful moments” but that the “mistakes stood out more” in the waltz, according to USA Today. Harper received scores of 6 from each of the judges.
“Dancing” is currently airing its 17th season.