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Len Goodman: Beloved 'Dancing with the Stars' Judge
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Len Goodman, the beloved head judge on "Dancing with the Stars" and "Strictly Come Dancing," passed away on April 22, 2023, at the age of 78, just months after retiring from his long-standing role on the popular dance competition shows.

 

Goodman's Early Life and Career Beginnings

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Leonard Gordon Goodman was born on April 25, 1944, in Farnborough, Kent, England, and grew up in Bethnal Green, East London. He came to dancing relatively late, starting at the age of 19 after a doctor recommended it as exercise for his injured foot. Despite his late start, Goodman quickly excelled in ballroom dancing, winning competitions across the country by his twenties. The former welder from the Woolwich docks eventually became a British Champion dancer. Goodman's passion for dance led him to become a teacher and choreographer, and he opened his own dance school in Kent. His working-class background, with family members selling vegetables from wheelbarrows in London's East End, provided a stark contrast to the glamorous world of ballroom dancing he would later inhabit.
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Goodman's Transition from Welding to Dance

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Len Goodman's journey from welding to dancing was an unexpected career shift. After leaving school at 15, Goodman worked as an apprentice welder at various companies, including British Oxygen Corporation and Harland and Wolff shipyard. His transition to dance began at age 19 when a doctor recommended it as therapy for a foot injury. Despite this late start, Goodman's natural talent quickly emerged as he won various competitions and eventually claimed the British Championships at Blackpool. This success led him to retire from competitive dancing in his late twenties and focus on teaching and judging, setting the stage for his future role as a beloved dance competition judge.
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Achievements in Competitive Dance

Len Goodman's achievements in competitive dance are a testament to his skill and dedication to the art form. Here are some of his notable accomplishments:
  • British Championships at Blackpool: Goodman won the prestigious British Championships at Blackpool in his late twenties, marking a significant milestone in his competitive dance career.
  • Carl Alan Award: He was a recipient of the Carl Alan Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to dance.
  • British Exhibition Championships: Goodman won the British Exhibition Championships four times, showcasing his exceptional talent and versatility in ballroom dancing.
  • World Exhibition Championships: He also claimed victory in the World Exhibition Championships, further establishing his reputation on the global stage.
  • Dual of the Giants and British Rising Stars: Among his early achievements, Goodman won the Dual of the Giants and the British Rising Stars championship, highlighting his rapid rise in the competitive dance world.
These accolades reflect Goodman's significant impact on competitive ballroom dancing, both in the UK and internationally.
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Len Goodman (Photos)

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From 'Strictly Come Dancing' to 'Dancing with the Stars': Len Goodman's TV Career

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Len Goodman's television career catapulted him to international fame as the head judge on BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing" from 2004 to 2016 and as a judge on the American version, "Dancing with the Stars," from 2005 to 2022. On both shows, Goodman brought his wealth of expertise and no-nonsense honesty to his role, becoming known for his catchphrases like "It's a 10 from Len!" and his distinctive way of saying "Seven!". His cheeky quips and cheesy one-liners added to the sparkle and broad appeal of the shows, helping to revitalize interest in ballroom dancing for a new generation. Goodman's impact on these popular dance competition programs was significant, contributing to their success and longevity, with "Strictly Come Dancing" attracting audiences of over 11 million at its peak.
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Len's Awards and Accolades

Len Goodman received notable recognition for his contributions to dance and television. His accolades included prestigious awards and nominations for his work on popular dance competition shows.
AwardDetails
Carl Alan AwardRecipient for outstanding contributions to dance
Primetime Emmy AwardNominated in 2006 and 2007 for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program for "Dancing with the Stars"
National Television AwardNominated in 2017 for Most Popular TV Judge for "Strictly Come Dancing"
Goodman's impact on dance extended beyond competitions, as evidenced by these honors. His work on "Dancing with the Stars" garnered Emmy nominations, highlighting the show's popularity and influence in the reality TV landscape. The Carl Alan Award, a prestigious recognition in the dance world, further cemented Goodman's status as a significant figure in ballroom dancing.
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Len Goodman (Videos)

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Goodman's Industry Relationships

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Len Goodman had meaningful relationships with several notable figures in the dance and television industry. Here are some key individuals who were closely associated with him:
  • Jackie Gill: As Goodman's agent, Jackie Gill played a crucial role in managing his career and was the one to confirm his passing. She described him as a "much-loved husband, father, and grandfather" who will be sorely missed by family, friends, and all who knew him.
  • Julianne Hough: A professional dancer and judge on "Dancing with the Stars," Julianne Hough worked alongside Goodman for many years. She participated in a heartfelt tribute to him on the show, which brought many to tears, including Goodman's wife, Sue Barrett, who was in the audience.
  • Craig Revel Horwood: A fellow judge on "Strictly Come Dancing," Craig Revel Horwood shared a long-standing professional relationship with Goodman. He often praised Goodman's expertise and humor, acknowledging his significant impact on the show and the dance community.
  • Bruno Tonioli: Another judge on both "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Dancing with the Stars," Bruno Tonioli had a deep bond with Goodman. Tonioli was visibly emotional during tributes to Goodman and shared fond memories of their time together, calling him "a national treasure" and "my perfect 10".
These relationships highlight the profound influence and lasting legacy Len Goodman had within the dance and entertainment world.
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Len Goodman's Family and Relationships

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Len Goodman's personal life included two marriages and a devoted family. He first married his dance partner Cherry Kingston in 1972, but they divorced in 1987. In 2012, Goodman married Sue Barrett, a dance teacher, after a decade-long relationship. He often referred to her affectionately as "My Wonderful Sue". Goodman had one son, James William Goodman, born in 1981 from a relationship with a woman named Lesley. James followed in his father's footsteps to some extent, occasionally judging dance events. Goodman was also a proud grandfather to two children, Alice and Dan, born to James and his wife Sophie. In his later years, Goodman expressed that family was the most important thing to him, leading to his decision to retire from "Dancing with the Stars" to spend more time with his loved ones in the UK.
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Final Years and Legacy

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Len Goodman announced his retirement from "Dancing with the Stars" in November 2022, expressing a desire to spend more time with his family and grandchildren in Britain. Sadly, he passed away on April 22, 2023, at the age of 78, just days before his 79th birthday. The cause of death was revealed to be bone cancer, which had spread from prostate cancer. Goodman's legacy lives on through the renaming of the show's coveted prize to the "Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy". Colleagues and fans remembered him fondly for his expertise, wit, and kindness. Carrie Ann Inaba described him as "A dancer. A teacher. A refined gentleman. A wonderful storyteller. A special soul. A mentor. A family man. And ... A treasured friend". His impact on ballroom dancing and television will be remembered for years to come.
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Closing Thoughts on Goodman

Len Goodman, a revered figure in the world of dance, left an indelible mark on both British and American television as a judge on "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Dancing with the Stars." His journey from a late start in ballroom dancing to becoming a celebrated dance teacher and television personality is a testament to his talent and dedication. Goodman's expertise, humor, and distinctive catchphrases endeared him to millions of viewers, making him a beloved figure in the dance community. Goodman's influence extended beyond the dance floor. His role in popularizing ballroom dancing through television brought the art form to a broader audience, inspiring countless individuals to take up dancing. His legacy is not only reflected in the awards and accolades he received but also in the memories and tributes from colleagues and fans who admired his warmth, wit, and integrity. As we reflect on Goodman's life and career, it is clear that he was more than just a judge; he was a mentor, a storyteller, and a cherished friend to many. His contributions to dance and television will continue to be celebrated, and his impact will be felt for generations to come.
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