Want more from Sunday TODAY? Catch up on our interviews and features here 

Pop Culture

Half-Pint Who? 'Dancing' pro Maks had never even heard of partner Melissa Gilbert

Rick Rowell / Today
DANCING WITH THE STARS - REHEARSALS - This season's dynamic lineup of stars will perform either the Foxtrot or the Cha Cha for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," MONDAY, MARCH 19 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/RICK ROWELL) MELISSA GILBERT, MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY

When the cast for the upcoming season of "Dancing With the Stars" was announced last week, we polled our readers to get their reactions to the big and not-so-big names. The majority responded: "I don't even know who most of these people are."

Well, take heart, readers. It looks like you're in good company.

Professional hoofer Maksim Chmerkovskiy didn't recognize his own celebrity partner, actress Melissa Gilbert.

"The first time we met -- it's a funny story now. I just don't want to offend anybody," ballroom's bad boy said during an interview on "Good Day LA." "When she walked in and we said, 'Hi' … she goes, 'Oh my god, it's you!' and I go, 'Oh my god, it's … uh, you ...' And for the next two and a half minutes I really tried to play this whole out-of-respect thing, and I had no clue who she was -- zero."

Of course, most of us who are familiar with Gilbert came to know her for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on "Little House on the Prairie." While the show aired in the '70s and '80s, its continued syndication internationally means that Chmerkovskiy can't use the fact that he only came to America from the Ukraine in 1994 as an excuse.

Well, one thing is for sure: He knows who Gilbert is now. And between his daily rehearsals with her and a special gift she gave him, he'll never forget.

"Since we met, she actually gifted me with an entire collection of the show ('Little House on the Prairie')," he revealed.

Are you surprised that Maks had never heard of his partner before? Tell us on our Facebook page.


Related content: