‘The Masked Singer’ Season 9 Premiere Reveals First Two Celebrities, Including a Legend Who’s the Show’s Oldest Yet

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the Season 9 season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” which aired Feb. 15 on Fox.

“The Masked Singer” kicked off its Season 9 on Wednesday night with one of its biggest stars yet — and also its oldest. Entertainer icon Dick Van Dyke, 97, was the celebrity under the Gnome costume, and was the first reveal of the night. Later, country music artist Sara Evans was unmasked as the Mustang.

Van Dyke’s reveal reps the second season in a row where the first reveal came from a legend. In Season 8, “Monty Python” star Eric Idle and “Star Trek” mainstay William Shatner (who at 91 had previously been the oldest celebrity on the show) were revealed on night 1.

“It was the weirdest experience I think I’ve ever had,” Van Dyke said.

Van Dyke said he actually reached out to Idle when he first considered coming on “The Masked Singer.” “He said he sweat like a pig and almost suffocated,” Van Dyke said. “So that’s why they gave me this big thing.”

He’s referring to his costume – which actually was more of a shell that he climbed into and was wheeled around in. “It was like a giant rolling pumpkin head,” he said. “I could just peek out through a little peephole. I just had to step into it. Instead of having to wear something that would be too much.”

Van Dyke said he had never seen “The Masked Singer” when he was offered the gig. He decided to watch it, “and it looked like fun to me which it was. I did it because I knew that nobody would have ever guess they’d have a 97-year-old guy on there.”

And indeed, no one got the Gnome right. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg thought it was Tony Bennett. Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke both picked Dustin Hoffman. Ken Jeong thought it was Robert DeNiro.

“They have a great crew and they just treated me wonderfully,” Van Dyke said. “But by the time you get out of your car, your head’s covered. So, you never see anybody. I never saw anybody. They walk you around in a hood with you being led. I never got to see the people I was working with. I’ve got to go back and visit.”

For his song, Van Dyke chose “When You’re Smiling,” by Billie Holiday. “They wanted me to do something a little more current,” he said. “But I said I know nothing about modern music. You’ve got to let me sing an old favorite. Somebody thought I was Tony Bennett! Of course, they also guessed Dustin Hoffman.”

“This is the most seasoned and decorated entertainer we have had on our show,” host Nick Cannon said after Van Dyke was revealed. “Truly a legend.”

Mustang was Sara Evans, and the panel was also stumped. Thicke thought it was Suzanne Somers. McCarthy Wahlberg decided to go with Joan Jett. Scherzinger thought it was Wynonna Judd. Jeong named Pink.

Like last season, “The Masked Singer” has once again adopted a “Champion of Masked Singer” format. Each episode, three costumed celebrities will perform, but only one will win and move on to compete again the following week. After each round, three finalists will compete in the semi-finals.

That means one contestant will be unmasked midway through the episode, with the top two singers facing off in a “battle royale.” In week one, Evans, as Mustang, faced off against Medusa. The duo sang “Diamonds” by Rihanna; Medusa moves forward to next week.

New this season is “Ding Dong Keep It On.” (“Somebody needed to tell you that, Nick, OK?” quipped Nicole Scherzinger, in one of the best retorts in “Masked Singer” history.) In the new twist to the competition, panelists will have the opportunity to save a singer from looming elimination, but the bell can only be rung three times during the first three rounds. Those three singers will then face off on a special episode in a battle to rejoin the competition.

“The Masked Singer” enters Season 9 with 21 contestants include “Mustang,” “Axolotl,” “California Roll,” “Dandelion,” “Moose,” “Gargoyle,” “Jackalope,” “Doll,” Polar Bear,” “Night Owl,” “Rock Lobster,” “Gnome” and more to be announced. Tim Chappel is this season’s costume designer.

The Season 9 contestants “boast a combined 28 Emmy nominations, six Grammy wins, 10 gold albums, four Golden Globe nominations, five medals, 26 books, two Tony Award nominations, five Lifetime Achievement Awards, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a combined 95,231,000 records sold.”  Season nine will introduce all-new themed episodes, including “ABBA,” “New York,” “DC Superheroes,” “Sesame Street,” “80s Night,” “Movie Night” and more.

Here were the contestants and their performances on night one:

Mustang (SARA EVANS)

Song: “Here I Go Again,” by Whitesnake

Swag Bag Clue: Cover of “Most Beautiful People.” “I truly believe that beauty comes from the inside, but this time it’s on the cover.”

Package voiceover: “From the outside, my life may look like a shiny carnival. I’ve sold out arenas. I’ve won awards. And even collaborated with Elvis. But this ride has come with its fair share of pain. I’ve almost died more times than I can count. But I’m a survivor. I’m hell on heels. Every time I’m counted out, I come back stronger than before, with my herd right by my side. So tonight, I’m reining in all my horsepower as the sexy, mighty mustang. And after facing death, how scary can singing here be?”

Panel guesses: Pink, Suzanne Somers, Ann or Nancy Wilson, Chrissie Hynde


Song: “When You’re Smiling,” by Billie Holiday

Swag Bag Clue: Kennedy Center honoree. “I met President Biden, I told him you know I used to be as tall as you, and he said, I used to have hair like you.”

Package voiceover: “Just like a wise magical gnome observing the forest around him, I’ve become a mainstay of your lives over the course of my storied career. Just ask the producers. I really have done it all. I’ve joked with the cleverest of comedians, from Robin Williams to Ben Stiller. I’ve performed with the biggest names in music, from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Madonna. And my address book includes all the president’s men, from Barack to Biden. But there’s always more to do, especially when you’re working for the fun of it. Because being a true entertainer isn’t about money or awards, it’s about going to bed every night having put a smile on someone’s face. And being proud of what you’ve done.”

Panel guesses: Dustin Hoffman, Mel Brooks, Robert DeNiro

Medusa (WEEK 1 WINNER)

Song: “Happier Than Ever,” by Billie Eilish

Swag Bag Clue: DVD of “Medusa: Snakes on the Astral Plane” and a note: “$340 Million Sold!” “Sometimes, success comes in the grayest of places.”

Package voiceover: “I grew up far from the spotlight, a dancer in the dark. And I never quite fit in. I mean, look at me. But fitting in was never something I really worried about. Because I knew early on, I was born to stand out. So, I did my own thing and ignored anyone who wanted me to conform. Embracing my oddities, snakes and all, has taken me far. From the Super Bowl to this very stage. That’s right, technically I’ve been here before. But this time I’m here to compete. And ‘Masked Singer’ seems like the perfect stage for me. Because look around, it doesn’t get much weirder than this.”

Panel guesses: Elle Goulding, Megan Markle, Jessie J, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, Lorde

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