Len Goodman, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ judge, dies at 78

Len Goodman, the former judge on the TV dance competition “Dancing with the Stars,’ died Saturday of bone cancer, according to his manager.

He was 78. He would have turned 79 on Monday.

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“It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78,” Goodman’s manager Jackie Gill said in the statement shared with BBC News. “A much-loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”

Goodman died at a hospice in Kent, England, surrounded by his family, according to the BBC.

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

While Goodman became familiar to Americans as a judge on ‘DWTS,’ he was a successful professional dancer before he became a head judge on the British version of the show called “Strictly Come Dancing.” He was on “Strictly” for 12 years from its launch on the BBC in 2004.

The shows pair celebrities with dance instructors, and each week the duos perform a dance and are judged on their performances.

Goodman announced his retirement from ‘DWTS’ in November, according to The Associated Press.

“Doing a live show you have to be at the top of your game and quick to react. And as one gets older, then things start to get more challenging,” he told People. “I haven’t fallen asleep or started dribbling yet on the show, so I thought it’s best to go before I start to do so!”

Tributes to Goodman came in from coworkers and fans, alike.

British broadcaster Esther Rantzen said Goodman was firm but always “a gentleman.”

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

Former judge Bruno Tonioli shared a picture of the two of them together, declaring: “There will never be anyone like you. You will always be my perfect 10.”

Piers Morgan called Goodman a “quintessential Londoner and a top bloke.”

Goodman is survived by his wife, a son and two grandchildren.

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