Len Goodman, former head judge on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, passed away on Saturday at the age of 78.
In a statement given by Goodman’s manager, Jackie Gill, she said, “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully,” adding that his wife Sue Barrett and son James were by his side when he passed.
Gill did not reveal the cause of his death, but he was previously diagnosed with bone cancer.
Goodman was a renowned professional ballroom dancer in his life, which led to his initial spot as judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing (SCD), which shares the same premise as Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). He debuted as judge on SCD in 2004, and remained on the dance competition show for 12 years.
A year after SCD premiered, DWTS first aired with Goodman as a judge on the show as well. With both shows airing in the fall season, he would be constantly traveling back and forth from England to the States before retiring from SCD in 2016, and from DWTS just last November.
“It has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show,” he said last fall regarding his retirement from the American celebrity dance competition. “But I’ve decided I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain. I could not thank you enough, my Dancing With The Stars family, it’s been such a wonderful experience for me.”
Goodman was the recipient of the Carl Alan Award for his contributions to the world of dance, as well as being the proud owner of Southern England’s Goodman Academy dance school. But being a judge on both the highly popular competition shows later in his life are what really solidified his fame, something that British broadcaster Esther Rantzen said he was “astonished and delighted” by.
“One of the reasons he succeeded so well in the States is that he was quintessentially British,” she added. “He was firm but fair, funny but a gentleman and I hope the nation will adopt his favorite expostulation of ‘pickle me walnuts.’”
The BBC director-general, Tim Davie, also released a statement regarding the beloved dancing icon, saying Goodman was “a wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions. He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family. Len was at the very heart of Strictly’s success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”
Goodman is dearly missed and his legacy will leave its mark on the world of dance for generations to come.