Len Goodman, former 'Dancing with the Stars' head judge, dies at 78

WABC logo
Monday, April 24, 2023
Len Goodman, former 'Dancing with the Stars' head judge, dies at 78
Former "Dancing with the Stars" head judge Len Goodman has died.

Len Goodman, the urbane, long-serving judge on "Dancing with the Stars" and "Strictly Come Dancing," has died, his agent said Monday. He was 78.

Goodman's agent said he "passed away peacefully," Saturday evening in hospice care surrounded by his family.

The former professional dancer had been battling bone cancer.

As a British champion, Goodman was a judge on "Strictly Come Dancing" for 12 years from its launch on the BBC in 2004. The ballroom dancing competition, which pairs celebrities with professional dance partners, has become one of the network's most popular shows.

His former co-judge, Bruno Tonioli posted a heartfelt message after hearing the news that his dear friend, his "perfect 10" had passed away.

Goodman served as the head judge on "Dancing with the Stars" from the show's debut until he retired last November.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said 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 was also a recipient of the Carl Alan Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance, and owned the Goodman Academy dance school in southern England.

Goodman's pithy observations, delivered in a Cockney accent, endeared him to viewers. "You floated across that floor like butter on a crumpet," he remarked after one foxtrot. He praised a salsa-dancing couple as "like two sizzling sausages on a barbecue."

British broadcaster Esther Rantzen said Goodman had been "astonished and delighted" by his late-life fame.

"One of the reasons he succeeded so well in the States is that he was quintessentially British," she said. "He was firm but fair, funny but a gentleman and I hope the nation will adopt his favorite expostulation of 'pickle me walnuts.'"

WABC Meteorologist and former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Sam Champion reflected on what Goodman meant to him.

Former "Dancing with the Stars" head judge Len Goodman has died. Sam Champion reflects on what Goodman meant to him.

Goodman would have turned 79 years old on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* Follow us on YouTube

* More local news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.