Len Goodman, a former judge on the popular show Dancing with the Stars, has passed away at the age of 78, according to his manager. The London-born ex-professional ballroom dancer had been battling bone cancer and died in a hospice in Kent, southern England on Saturday.
Goodman had retired from the show in November after being a part of it since its premiere season in 2005. He was given a standing ovation when he announced his retirement on-air, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family in the UK. His death came less than six months later and just days before his 79th birthday.
Goodman was also the head judge on the British version of the show, Strictly Come Dancing, from 2004 until his final appearance during a 2016 Christmas Day special. Before his successful TV career, Goodman started dancing at the age of 19 after a doctor recommended ballroom as a treatment for a foot injury.
He danced professionally for less than a decade, winning a British Championships title along the way, before opening his own dancing school and judging in competitions.
Fellow Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood paid tribute to Goodman on Twitter, describing him as a “gorgeous colleague and dear friend.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie also paid tribute, saying Goodman was a “wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions” and at the heart of Strictly’s success. Goodman’s manager, Jackie Gill, said he was a “much loved husband, father, and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”