Long-time “Dancing With the Stars” and “Strictly Come Dancing” judge Len Goodman has died. He was 78.
Goodman’s manager confirmed his death to the BBC on Monday. The British ballroom dancer and judge, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer, died on April 22 at a hospice in Kent, surrounded by his family.
“It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78,” said Goodman’s agent Jackie Gill in a statement. “A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”
Goodman was a mainstay as head judge on the popular BBC dance competition “Strictly Come Dancing” from its 2004 launch right up until 2016. He also served as a judge on the U.S. adaptation, “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC, from its launch in 2005 through to 2022.
Last year, Goodman revealed that Season 31 of “Dancing With the Stars,” which premiered last fall on its new home on streamer Disney+, was going to be his final season after 17 years with the program.
“I got the call to be a judge three days before the first show,” said Goodman at the time, reflecting on his long tenure on the show. “Little Len! Who am I? I’m just a dance teacher from Dartford. Suddenly, I’m thrust into Hollywood. I got the reputation for being the tough judge, because what I see is what I say.”
Indeed, Goodman was respected on both shows for his straightforward critique and analysis of contestants. He didn’t mince words in relaying feedback, but was also kind and complimentary of star performers.
The BBC released a statement just minutes after Goodman’s death was first announced by the public broadcaster, with director general Tim Davie calling him a “wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions.”
“He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family,” said Davie. “Len was at the very heart of ‘Strictly’s’ success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”
In a statement, ABC called Goodman an “icon in the world of ballroom dance.”
“We were lucky to have him as part of our ‘Dancing with the Stars’ family for 31 seasons. He was warm and caring, and always delivered genuine guidance,” said the broadcaster. “We are devastated by the news of his passing and our hearts are with his family during this very difficult time.”
Born as Leonard Gordon Goodman in London in 1944, Goodman relocated with his family to Blackfen at a young age. One of his early jobs was as an apprentice welder. Upon sustaining a foot injury, a doctor recommended dance as a form of therapy, and Goodman began dancing at 19.
As a professional, Goodman won a number of competitions and ultimately retired in his late 20s. He appeared as head judge on “Strictly” from its inception, serving on a panel with Arlene Phillips, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, whom he’d later work with on “Dancing With the Stars.” He stepped down from the show in 2016.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Variety