Remembering a dance legend. After achieving success as a ballroom dancer, Len Goodman found fame as a TV judge on Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With the Stars.
Goodman — who died in April 2023 at age 78, just three days shy of his 79th birthday — began his career on the dance floor at age 19, when a foot injury (and a go-getter girlfriend) helped pave the way for his lifelong love.
“I got into dancing because I had hurt my foot and it just wouldn’t get better. I had an old Scottish doctor who told me to go ballroom dancing. He said it was very good for your feet because you’re going up and down a lot,” the U.K. native explained to The Guardian in 2006. “My girlfriend arranged for it all to happen. I really didn’t want to go, I kicked up a right fuss. But once I’d been for a couple of weeks, I really loved it. I realized I had a bit of a talent for it.”
Though the late TV personality “only danced for about eight years,” he explained at the time, his win at the British Championships inspired him to open a dance school. “I thought, ‘Well, I won’t win this again,’ so I thought I’d retire a winner,” Goodman shared.
After turning his focus to training students — “I’ve taught every standard from world champion to beginners and my favorite are people off the street, and children, and I do those classes if I can,” he told The Guardian in 2006 — the dance champion scored the role of head judge on BBC’s new dance competition series, Strictly Come Dancing, in 2004. One year later, Goodman took his talents to Dancing With the Stars, the American version of Strictly. He was head judge of each program for over a decade, ending his run on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017, 13 years after the show’s premiere. On DWTS, he was a mainstay and fan favorite until he announced his retirement in November 2022 at the end of season 31. He died six months later of bone cancer.
In December 2022, one month after announcing his departure from DWTS, Goodman reflected on his life and career.
“My dad had the right idea. He loved gardening and he had a stroke while he was out in the garden. He was 79,” the Disney+ alum — who was married twice and a father of one — told the Daily Mail at the time. “So if I go the way of my dad, that’ll be next year.”
Surmising even more on his obituary, Goodman added: “Just write: ‘He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky.’”
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