Len Goodman, the beloved judge of Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, passed away on Saturday at the age of 78 after a battle with bone cancer. He was one day short of his 79th birthday, which he had predicted would be his last in a touching interview with The Daily Mail six months ago.
Goodman had said that he expected to die at the same age as his father, who had a stroke while gardening at 79. He also joked that he wanted his obituary to read: “He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky.” He added that he didn’t want to linger or suffer, but rather go out quickly and gracefully.
The former ballroom dancer from England had a remarkable career that spanned decades and continents. He started dancing at 21 after a football injury and became a professional champion and a respected teacher. He joined Strictly Come Dancing as head judge in 2004 and Dancing with the Stars in 2005, where he charmed audiences with his wit, wisdom and catchphrases.
He retired from both shows in 2016 and 2020 respectively, citing his desire to spend more time with his family and enjoy his grandchildren. He was married to his wife Sue for 14 years and had a son James and two grandchildren Alice and Dan from a previous marriage.
His fellow judges and friends paid tribute to him on social media, remembering him as a legend, a gentleman and a dear friend. Carrie Ann Inaba wrote: “He was always so kind, so supportive, so loving and so funny. He was a true gift to this world.” Bruno Tonioli shared: “I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together.”
Len Goodman will be sorely missed by his fans, colleagues and loved ones. He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky, but he also made millions of people happy with his talent, humor and generosity. He was a star who shone brightly on the dance floor and beyond.