Each season, Kat Gotsick undertakes the world’s dumbest statistical analysis in order to predict who the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” might cast. Based on that analysis, the producers choose all their contestants from 11 different categories in seven different tiers of priority. Check her predictions in other categories for this season: Elite Athletes / Pop Stars / Comedians & Goofballs / Reality Stars / Wild Cards / Physically Challenged / Beautiful People / People We Hate / Quirky C-Listers / Disney Stars

Nostalgic icons have appeared in 11 out of 15 seasons, just shy of 75 percent–one of the categories represented most frequently on DWTS (indeed, only Elite Athletes and Pop Stars have been represented more often.) Interestingly though, no Icons appeared on either of the two most recent seasons (Season 16 and before that, All Star Season 15) so I think we’re due. Let’s look at the data.

Here’s the complete list of Nostalgic Icons that have previously appeared on DWTS:[ref]As I’ve said in other columns, my classifications here are completely subjective so they’re probably wrong. Why, for instance, is Ted McGinley a Nostalgic Icon but Jack Wagner is a Quirky C-Lister? I don’t know. Please stop asking.[/ref]

icon table

And here is the breakdown on the list:

41%            TV Star, single role[ref]Lopez, Lawrence, Ratzenberger, Ziering, Garth, Hart, Henderson, White, Gilbert[/ref]
23%            Crossover Icon[ref]Hamilton, Presley, Newton, and both Osmonds[/ref]
9%              Movie Star, single Role[ref]Grey, Macchio[/ref]
9%              Older Movie Star[ref] Guttenberg, O’Neal[/ref]
9%              Older Recording Artist[ref]Knight, Phillips (to whom I gave Icon status because of her conspicuous pedigree, otherwise I would have put her in the Pop Star category[/ref]
9%              Older TV star[ref]McGinley, Leachman[/ref]


There’s one big money category: Seems like DWTS loves to cast actors who made their bones on the portrayal of a single character on network TV. Or perhaps there’s a chicken and egg thing going on here too? Actors who have been pigeonholed by their portrayal of a single TV character are more likely to take the DWTS gig because they’re so eager for the public to see another side of them? Hmmm. In any case, it’s an incredibly fun exercise to remember our favorite TV characters and imagine them on the dance floor.

And a medium money category: The other major sub-category that seems easy to cast is the somewhat ambiguous Crossover Icons. These are people who have huge, diverse, sometimes confusing bodies of work but everyone in the world knows their name.

Nostalgic Icons are Old: The average age of our Nostalgic Icons is 51, over 20 years older than the average age of a DWTS Reality Star, which is 30. Only five of 22 total Nostalgic Icons, less than a quarter, have been in their 30s.


For clarity, I’ll use their character’s name.

The Choices that Make the Most Sense Predictive Criteria Wise: Corey and/or Topanga,[ref]Especially given the need to promote that new little “Girl meets World.”[/ref] Balki, MacGyver,[ref]I would actually really like to see MacGyver do this.[/ref] Short Round.[ref]HOW AWESOME WOULD IT BE TO SEE SHORT ROUND AGAIN?[/ref]

The White Whales: Neil Patrick Harris, Bette Midler, Carrie Fisher, Whoopi Goldberg

The Be-Careful-What-You-Wish-For White Whales: Roseanne, Boy George

The Blue Whales: Alan Thicke,[ref]He’s so hot right now[/ref] George Costanza, any New Kid, N*Syncer, or Backstreet Boy,Daryl Hall, Bruce Campbell, Doc Brown

The Sterotypical Ready-for-Reality TV Choices: Carlton Banks, Jenny McCarthy

The Courageous Choice I Bet They Wouldn’t Regret: Anyone from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite”

The Plan B’s: MC Hammer, Freddy Krueger