Rumer Willis, the most technically proficient of the three finalists on this season’s “Dancing With the Stars,” took the coveted gold mirror ball trophy on Tuesday night.
With the announcement at the end of the two-hour show, capping its 20th season, her professional ballroom partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, scored his first-ever win out of three prior series finales.
The 26-year-old singer-actress, daughter of movie stars Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, used the exposure of the popular weekly program to shed light on her personal experiences with bullying and Internet attacks. Judge Julianne Hough said that she “danced for every girl,” when she found her confidence and ignored the haters who had plagued her teen years.
Throughout the season, Moore and other daughters Tallulah and Scout, along with family friends including Glenn Close, had been in the “DWTS” studio as an on-site support system. Proud father Willis also appeared, and openly cried at her breathtaking performances, during later rounds.
Judges, though admittedly nitpicking some of her routines and grading harshly at midseason, praised Rumer during the show’s home stretch, with Bruno Tonioli saying she had “stage presence” and a “wonderful lyrical quality of movement.”
For their only new number of the night, she and Chmerkovskiy danced a foxtrot-paso doble fusion during Tuesday’s jam-packed program, a routine they had only one day to choreograph and learn as part of the contest’s first-time 24 Hour Fusion Challenge.
Riker Lynch, a singer with his brothers in pop group R5 and former “Glee” co-star, and his pro partner Allison Holker came in second in the hoofing contest, and Iraq war veteran, double amputee and fan favorite Noah Galloway and partner Sharna Burgess landed in third, based on judges’ and fan voting.
Rumer and Val, in perhaps pivotal numbers from Monday night, scored two perfect 40s for their foxtrot to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” and the all-important freestyle routine that blended contemporary dance with the Argentine tango.
Rumer had recorded a breathy, slow-motion cover of the Britney Spears pop hit “Toxic” to go along with the dance, and Val, a classically trained musician, accompanied her on violin. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba declared the number “poetry in motion.”
The winners got hoisted onto their fellow competitors' shoulders, while the Willis family went wild amid a standing ovation from the audience and streamers and confetti raining from the ceiling.