"Thank you for having me. And thank you for letting me go home," the talk-show host said Wednesday after he received the lowest score from the ABC show's judges and viewers.
Springer, 62, outlasted the likes of younger, fleeter Harry Hamlin and stunner Vivica A. Fox. His tactics included humor — "At my age we don't shake hips, we replace them" — and sentiment, sharing his dream of learning to waltz for his daughter's wedding.
He also had the advantage of a talented and good-natured professional partner, Kym Johnson of Australia, who made the most of their routines. Springer was able to rise to the challenge at times and left on a high note with a graceful ballroom routine Tuesday.
"It's like watching Fred Flintstone turning into Fred Astaire," said enthusiastic judge Bruno Tonioli.
In the end, Springer's spirit counted more than his steps, said judge Len Goodman.
"You brought so much joy and entertainment to this show, I think you've done great," Goodman said.
Springer played several dances for laughs and the show's demands had him huffing and puffing at times, but the audience ate it up and kept him on, sometimes over his protests. Host Tom Bergeron joked it was the "ballroom equivalent of a hostage situation."
The talk-show host turned sentimental when it was time to say goodbye.
"I hope everyone has a moment in life where ..." and he stopped, overcome. "This show and this floor belongs to people who really can dance," he continued, tipping his hat to remaining contestants Mario Lopez, Monique Coleman, Emmitt Smith and Joey Lawrence.
Springer probably got a brief stay because of country singer Sara Evans, who abruptly left the contest when she announced Oct. 12 she was filing for divorce.
Her departure meant the loss of two celebrity competitors in one week, with Ford already voted out. So it was announced last Wednesday that bottom-ranked Springer and Lawrence would get another shot, with their two-week combined scores deciding who left.