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Dancing with the Stars former head judge, Len Goodman has died at age 78. His manager confirmed the news to the BBC on Monday, Apr. 24, 2023. The former professional ballroom dancer was beloved by fans of the dancing competition series, presiding over the series’ 367 competing celebrities from 2005 through 2022. Goodman announced his retirement at the end of season 31 to spend more time with his family in the U.K.

'Dancing with the Stars' Len Goodman has died at age 78.
Len Goodman starred on ‘DWTS’ for the majority of the series’ 31 seasons | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Len Goodman was a fixture on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ for 31 seasons

Throughout Dancing with the Stars‘ history, celebrities and their pro partners worked diligently to earn high scores from the series’ judges. These included Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, and Carrie Ann Inaba. In 2020, six-time mirrorball-winning champ Derek Hough joined the panel.

However, the competitors always strived to earn Goodman’s highest praise and scores. His infamous “a 10 from Len” became the barometer for which all stars and pros wanted to hear.

Goodman was difficult to please as a judge, for he wanted the show to remain true to its ballroom dancing core. He was not a fan of flashy, out-of-the-box routines.

Most of all, Goodman was respected for his straightforward critique and analysis of contestants. However, he was also kind and complimentary of star performers.

Goodman announced his retirement during season 31’s semi-finals performances of the Disney+ series. He said, “While we’re all getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week, it will also be with a touch of sadness as this will be my last season judging on Dancing with the Stars.”

He continued, “I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005, and it has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show, but I’ve decided I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain.”

Len Goodman died surrounded by family

Dancing with the Stars‘ head judge died on Saturday, Apr. 22, 2023. The BBC confirmed Goodman died on Saturday at a hospice of bone cancer in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by his family.

A statement from his manager, Jackie Gill, said: “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has died peacefully, aged 78. A much-loved husband, father, and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends, and all who knew him.”

Per Variety, Goodman was treated for prostate cancer in 2009. In 2020, he revealed via the U.K.’s Melanoma Fund that he underwent surgery for a facial melanoma. He is survived by his wife, Sue Barrett, a son from a previous relationship, James William Goodman, and two grandchildren, Alice and Dan.

He was a professional ballroom dancer and a fixture on the BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’

Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman, in a 2013 photo, judged 'Strictly Come Dancing' for the BBC.
Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman judged ‘DWTS’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ together | Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

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Born Leonard Gordon Goodman in London in 1944, Goodman did not begin dancing until 19. Before dancing, Goodman was an apprentice welder. However, a doctor recommended dance as therapy after Goodman sustained a foot injury.

Goodman became a professional dancer and won many ballroom competitions before retiring in his late 20s. He later became a television personality when he began judging Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

The BBC Saturday Night mainstay judging panel included Goodman, Arlene Phillips, Craig Revel Horwood, and Bruno Tonioli. Goodman and Tonioli would reunite for the U.S. version of the series one year later. He stepped down from his role in that series in 2016.

Goodman served as a judge for the first 20 seasons of Dancing with the Stars before taking a break for season 21. He returned to judge for seasons 22-28 before missing season 29. He returned for season 30 until his retirement at the close of season 31.

Dancing with the Stars is currently on hiatus. Season 32 is set to debut this fall on Disney+.