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Monday, December 11, 2023

Len Goodman, Judge of ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ Dies at 78

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LONDON — Len Goodman, a former British exhibition dance champion who was a longtime judge on the BBC reality show “Strictly Come Dancing,” as well as its American spinoff, “Dancing With the Stars,” died on Saturday in a hospice in Kent, England. He was 78.

The cause was bone cancer, his agent, Jackie Gill, said on Monday. Mr. Goodman, who had been working until up to a few weeks ago, was with his wife, Sue Barrett, and his son, James, when he died, Ms. Gill added.

Mr. Goodman was the head judge on the BBC show “Strictly Come Dancing” for over a decade until 2016. From 2005 until last year, he also judged the U.S. version, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” where he was known for addressing contestants with wry humor, charm and colorful phrases, as well as a distinctive delivery that included the way he would announce the score of “se-VEN!”

“He retained his sense of humor during his illness and dealt with it with great dignity,” said Ms. Gill. “He was always a true gentleman. He loved his work and never took anything for granted.”

Leonard Gordon Goodman was born in Bethnal Green, London, his agent said. He moved to Blackfen, then in Kent, England, and now part of London, when he was 6 and attended Westwood Secondary Modern School. He started dancing when he was 19, relatively late in life for someone who later becomes a professional, according to Ms. Gill.

Mr. Goodman went on to have a successful career as a dancer, winning Dual of the Giants, the British Rising Stars, the British Exhibition Championships (four times) and the World Exhibition Championships. He then opened the Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, England.

His first marriage, which ended in divorce, was to Cherry Kingston, a dancer, in 1972. He then had his son, James, with his partner Lesley. In 2012, he married Sue Barrett.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Goodman is survived by his two grandchildren.

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