Len Goodman’s death has rocked the Dancing With the Stars community, and those who worked with him on the show over the years have written touching social media tributes to the late star. News of Len’s death broke during the early hours of April 24, with a statement confirming that he “passed away peacefully” at the age of 78. Bruno Tonioli, who judged DWTS alongside Len since its very first season in 2005, was one of the first to take to Instagram to share a message about his friend’s passing.
“Heart broken. My dear friend and partner for 19 years, the one and only ballroom legend, Len Goodman passed away,” Bruno wrote, along with a photo of himself and Len hugging. “I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together. There will never be anyone like you. We will miss you.” Len and Bruno also worked on Strictly Come Dancing together in the UK for 12 seasons before Len’s departure in 2016.
Carrie Ann Inaba was also on the panel with Len and Bruno from season 1. She shared a video montage with tons of memories alongside Len on Instagram. “Saying goodbye at the end of last season broke my hart,” Carrie Ann wrote. “But today’s news has shattered it all over again. I can’t believe that you’re gone. You were one of a kind my dear friend. I will cherish our memories and hold them close while I join so many others in mourning your loss. Thank you for all that you shared with us. Your humor, your wisdom, your wit and your truth.”
DWTS judge Derek Hough posted some of his fondest memories with Len on Instagram, too. “Heart broken by the news of our dear friend and mentor Len Goodman. It’s a gloomy morning here in Los Angeles which seems fitting after this heart breaking news. But when I think back at the memories we all shared with Len, his sense of humor, his smile and charm, everything feels much brighter and full of sunshine. Still hard to fully process but filled with gratitude knowing I had the privilege of working beside this absolute legend. We will miss you dearly Len.”
Sharna Burgess posted a photo of herself dancing with Len, along with a touching tribute. “10 paddles all around for you my friend,” she wrote. “What an incredible impact you had on the Ballroom Dancing industry and those of us lucky enough to work with you. You helped bring our art form to the world in a new way, you helped us show how beautiful and special it is…how cool it could be. Thank you for always reminding us where we came from and always authentically being yourself, for all the tough love and especially for the 10s. A 10 from you was just about the greatest feeling we could hope for on show day.”
Keo Motsepe used his Instagram Story to post two messages for Len. “Rest well sir Len,” he wrote. “Thank you for the dance Len.” In a follow-up, he added, “May your soul rest in peace. You will be missed Len. The Legend.” Former DWTS host Tom Bergeron posted a collage of photos with Len on his Instagram, and wrote, “A good man, indeed. RIP.”
Shirley Ballas, who replaced Len on Strictly Come Dancing after his departure from the show in 2016, wrote on Twitter, “My past teacher, a dance legend, and a true gentleman. He was a shining star in the ballroom that everyone loved. He was funny, kind and quick witted. He always found the best way to give couples feedback. My heart is full of memories with him. Thank you for all your years in the ballroom, for your dedication to the art of ballroom dancing, for all your advice over the years.”
Len’s death comes just months after he announced that he would be retiring from his job on Dancing With the Stars. Throughout the show’s 31 seasons, Len only missed two, and has been a staple on the show since day one. He made the decision to retire so he could spend more time with his family, including his grandchildren, in the UK. Although Len was often known for being the harshest critic at the judges’ table, he was beloved by all those who worked with him and appeared as contestants on the series over the years.
“[Len is] A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him,” a statement about Len’s death said. He’d been married to his wife, Sue, since 2012, and had one son, James, 41.
This story will be updated with more tributes from cast members as they are posted.