A key component to Dancing with the Stars is that the celebrities should all be moderately recognizable. Heck, “star” is right there in the title. Every season there are always a handful of people I’ve never heard of, a few people I vaguely recognize, and some people I thought were too good to be on reality TV (I’m looking at you, Oscar winner Marlee Matlin). So who are this season’s most famous celebs, and which new Dancing with the Stars contestant will suffer the same fate as former no-names Josie Maran and Albert Reed? Here you’ll find my fame rankings for the 16 celebrities on Dancing with the Stars season 9.
15. Ashley Hamilton
When I came into the office and said Ashley Hamilton was a contestant this season, one co-worker responded, “Who’s she?” The fact that I had to explain that Ashley is a boy is a clear sign that being the son of George Hamilton and the ex-husband of Shannen Doherty isn’t a big enough claim to fame.
12. Mark Dacascos
This is not a name anyone would recognize. When I tell people that he’s the chairman on Iron Chef America, that recognition moves up, but only a little bit, as most people aren’t huge fans of the Food Network like I am.
11. Debi Mazar
Her big claim to fame is that she’s one of the stars of HBO’s Entourage. As a fan of Entourage, I can tell you that she’s only in about a quarter of the episodes, and even then she has a relatively small role. I’d rather see Turtle.
10. Tom DeLay
Sadly, many of my co-workers weren’t as excited as I was about the presence of The Hammer on this season. Despite the recent health care fervor, people aren’t so interested in politics that they recognize the former House majority leader.
9. Chuck Liddell
We had a heated debate in the office about whether a UFC champion is more famous than a man who used to be third in line for the presidency of the United States. We settled on the UFC fighter.
7. Aaron Carter
If you’re of a certain age, Aaron Carter might be higher on your list. This pop star and little brother to Backstreet Boy Nick Carter was once the object of desire for both Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, causing a Disney starlet feud. So clearly he was doing something right.
4. Melissa Joan Hart
If you don’t recognize the name, surely you know Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Even if you never saw the show, the title became a cultural phenomenon and helped cement Hart’s place in teen star history.
3. Kathy Ireland
If you’re in your teens or early 20s, your dad probably had a Kathy Ireland poster over his bed. If you’re a woman in her 40s, your husband definitely had a Kathy Ireland poster over his bed. She was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl three times and was featured in the annual magazine for 13 consecutive years.
2. Kelly Osbourne
The Osbournces on MTV revolutionized modern reality TV by starting a massive wave of celebreality trash. The Kardashians, the Girls Next Door, and all the others would be nowhere without them, and as such, Kelly, daughter of Ozzy, became world famous.
1. Donny Osmond
We really didn’t want to make Donny our most famous celebrity this season on Dancing with the Stars, mostly because we thought it would indicate a huge lack of star quality in the cast. But that’s what had to happen, because if we’re being totally honest, Donny is the most famous star this season. Sad, but true.