A legend lost. Len Goodman has died less than one year after announcing his exit from Dancing With the Stars.
The U.K. native’s agent, Jackie Gill, confirmed the news in a statement to the BBC on Monday, April 24. “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78,” Gill noted. “A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”
Goodman was surrounded by family when he passed away at a hospice in Kent, England, per his manager.
The ballroom professional was a judge on the BBC competition series Strictly Come Dancing from its premiere in 2004 to 2016. He began appearing as head judge on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars in 2005 alongside Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, announcing his retirement in November 2022 after season 31.
“I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005 and it has been a huge pleasure to be part of such a wonderful show, but I’ve decided I would like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain,” he revealed at the time. “I cannot thank you enough, the Dancing With the Stars family, it’s been such a wonderful experience for me and I’m looking forward so much to next week’s finale.”
Goodman sat out season 29 of DWTS in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Derek Hough joining Inaba, 55, and Tonioli, 67. The Italian choreographer was one of many celebs to mourn Goodman’s death on Monday.
“Hart broken [sic] my dear friend and partner for 19 years the one and only ballroom LEGEND #LenGoodman passed away I will treasure the memories of our adventures @bbcstrictly @officialdwts there will never be anyone like you you will always be my perfect 10❤️,” Tonioli tweeted alongside a photo of the pair sharing a sweet embrace.
Born in London, Goodman began dancing at age 19 after working as an apprentice welder. He quickly went pro and won multiple ballroom competitions before retiring from performing, but his love for dance never wavered. Throughout his lengthy career, Goodman earned a Carl Alan Award, which recognizes teachers, choreographers and more who have made significant contribution to the dance industry, and he opened the Goodman Academy dance school in southern England.
During his tenure on DWTS, the Len Goodman’s Perfect Christmas star was known for giving celeb contestants — and their professional partners — tough love from the judge’s table. As head judge, Goodman had the ultimate tie-breaking power when it came to saving couples from elimination — but the rule often sparked confusion among viewers.
While his critiques sometimes raised eyebrows, Goodman was well respected by his DWTS family. “He’s the head judge,” Hough, 37, exclusively told Us Weekly in November 2021. “There’s no show that exists where the original judges from season 1 [are still there in] season 30. It’s pretty impressive. It’s pretty remarkable.”
Sign up for Us Weekly’s free, daily newsletter and never miss breaking news or exclusive stories about your favorite celebrities, TV shows and more!
The late TV personality is survived by his wife, Sue Barrett, and son James William Goodman from a previous relationship.