Len Goodman, Dancing With the Stars
Credit: ABC via Getty Images

If you’ve been watching him on Dancing With the Stars for almost two decades, you may have questions over how Len Goodman died and what caused his death.

Goodman was a professional ballroom dancer and judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and its American version, Dancing With the Stars. Goodman was born on April 25, 1944 in London, England. He started dancing at 19 years old after his doctor recommended it as therapy for a foot injury. Goodman went on pursue a professional career in ballroom dancing and win various competitions before retiring after his win at the British Championship at Blackpool in his late 20s.

Goodman was a head judge on Strictly Come Dancing — a reality dance competition in which celebrities are partnered with professional dancers — from Seasons 1 to 14. He was also a head judge on Dancing With the Stars from Seasons 1 to 31, with the exception of Seasons 21 and 29. He announced his exit from the series in 2022. “This will be my last season judging on Dancing with the Stars. I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005 and it has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show. But I’ve decided I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain,” Goodman said in a statement at the time. “I could not thank you enough the Dancing with the Stars family. It’s been such a wonderful experience for me.”

After more than two decades on television, Goodman died three days before his 79th birthday on April 22, 2023. Read on for what to know about how Len Goodman died and what caused his death.

How did Len Goodman die?

Dancing With the Stars

How did Len Goodman die? Goodman died on Saturday, April 22, 2023, surrounded by family at a hospice in the town of Tunbridge Wells in Kent, England. He was 78 years old. Goodman’s manager, Jackie Gill, confirmed the death at the time. “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78,” Gill said in a statement to the BBC. “A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”

After the news of his death, several stars who worked with Goodman on Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With the Stars paid tribute to him. “I’ve just woken up to the sad news that my gorgeous colleague and dear friend Len Goodman has passed away. My heart and love go out to his lovely Sue and family,” tweeted Craig Level Horwood who was a judge with Goodman on Strictly Come Dancing. “Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and ‘It’s a ten from Len & seveeeeern’ will live with me forever. RIP Len.”

Claudia Winkleman, who hosts Strictly Come Dancing, tweeted, “I’m so sad about Len. He was one of a kind, a brilliant and kind man. Full of twinkle, warmth and wit. Sending all love to his family and friends. X”

Strictly Come Dancing co-host Tess Daly also honored Goodman in an Instagram post. “So very sad to hear the news today of the passing of our Len Goodman. A beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met,” she captioned a photo of Goodman on Strictly Come Dancing. “I’ll never forget the fun we had on set, his love and passion for dancing and that wonderfully cheeky smile lit up the screen. You were never a 7 for me, Len you were always a 10. My sincere condolences to Sue and all the family Rest in peace Len.”

Bruno Toniolo, who judged with Goodman on both Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With the Stars, tweeted a photo of them in the wake of his co-star’s death. “Heart broken my dear friend and partner for 19 years the one and only ballroom LEGEND #LenGoodman passed away I will treasure the memories of our adventures @bbcstrictly @officialdwts there will never be anyone like you you will always be my perfect 10,” Tonioli wrote.

Goodman’s death also extended beyond the worlds of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With the Stars. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told the BBC that Queen Consort Camilla was “saddened to hear the news” of Goodman’s passing. A spokesperson for United Kingdom Prime Mininster Rishi Sunak also described Goodman as “a great entertainer, a popular face on TV screens up and down the country.” The spokesperson continued, “He will be missed by many and our condolences go to his friends and family.”

What was Len Goodman’s cause of death?

Dancing With the Stars

What was Len Goodman’s cause of death? Goodman’s cause of death was bone cancer, according to his manager, Jackie Gill. According to the American Cancer Society, there were about 3,970 new cases of bone cancer diagnosed in 2023 and about 2,140 deaths from the disease. The majority of cases and deaths were for men. The organization also reports that bone cancer cases account for less than 1 percent of all cancers.

Goodman’s death came 14 years after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which his doctors found early in an annual check-up. “I’ve had the surgery now. Everything’s gorgeously good. I’ll be back in September for sure,” Goodman told The Daily Mail at the time.

Goodman told the publication that he discovered he had prostate cancer in March 2009 but decided not to undergo treatment until he finished filming that year’s season of Dancing with the Stars. “I could have said ‘sorry’ and not done the show, but the doctors felt I wasn’t riddled with it and it wasn’t so far advanced that it was a life-or-death scenario,” he said. “It takes a few weeks to get everything set up for the operation anyway, so I went ahead and did the show. I had the surgery done as soon as I got back from America.”

Goodman also revealed that he didn’t tell anyone at BBC One — the network that airs Strictly Come Dancing — about his prostate cancer diagnosis. “No one at the BBC knows,” he said at the time. “I didn’t want to tell everyone — it’s not necessary to blabber it out to everyone.” He continued, “People generally think ‘bloody hell.’ With all the hoo-ha about Strictly coming up, I thought, ‘Just my luck, they won’t want that old fart on it, the cancer-riddled, bed-ridden old so-and–so.’ But they haven’t said that because I haven’t told them. I’ve only told half a dozen people.”

Though the doctors found his cancer early, Goodman told The Daily Mail that he feared for the worst when he was first diagnosed with the disease. “I feel good,” he said at the time. “I was obviously worried at the start. We all worry if we get something like this. You do feel a bit vulnerable, but as long as you come out the other side all right, why worry?”

To remove the cancer, Goodman underwent surgery at BMI The Blackhealth Hospital in South-East London, England. His surgery was conducted by urologist Peter Thompson. “I was confined to the hospital for four days, and then it’s been a couple of weeks of convalescing and recuperating,” he said at the time. “The trouble with doctors is they won’t tell you definitely what you should do. They leave it to you. So yours is an uneducated guess. They said I could have radiation, but I thought the best thing was to have it removed.”

He continued, “It was left to me and I felt that was the best route, but whether it is or not I don’t know. You’re a bit sore for a while and you can’t play golf, which is the biggest blow at the moment. But I will be able to in a month’s time or so – I can’t wait.”

During the interview, Goodman also urged others, especially middle-aged men, to undergo annual check-ups. “Men, probably more than women, tend to ignore their health,” he said. “As long as you get checked up every year, then medicine is such now that if you do get something, then hopefully they can catch it early and you have a good chance.” He continued, “I think that’s the most important thing — men of a certain age should have their check-up every year.”

Goodman’s death also came three years after he had skin cancer removed from his forehood. “Len Goodman has asked us to keep ‘spreading the word’ re. sun protection for golf,” the non-profit Melanoma Fund captioned a Facebook photo of Goodman with a large bandage on his forehead at the time. “The ex-BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge was playing a few rounds with our ambassador Paul Way at The Grove — a Sun Protection Accredited club, and revealed he has just had skin cancer removed. He wanted us to use this image to inspire others to take the issue seriously!”

Dancing With the Stars is available to stream on Disney Plus.

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