Len Goodman predicted when he retired six months ago that he expected to die in 2023 because his own father passed away suddenly when he was 79, MailOnline can reveal today.
The much-loved Strictly Come Dancing judge has died aged 78 in a hospice in Tunbridge Wells in Kent following a short illness, sparking an outpouring of grief from his family, fans and his Strictly co-stars.
The dance maestro had bone cancer and died on Saturday night. He would have been 79 tomorrow.
In December 2022, just weeks after retiring as head judge on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly, he told the Mail: ‘My dad had the right idea. He loved gardening and he had a stroke while he was out in the garden. He was 79 so if I go the way of my dad, that’ll be next year.’
Len said he was retiring to spend more time with his wife Sue, and his grandchildren, Alice, seven, and Jack, four. He then suggested that his interviewer, Jenny Johnston, could write his obituary. He told her: ‘Just write: “He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky”. Because that’s just about the truth of it.’
Fans have pondered whether he already knew he was seriously ill. Goodman was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2009, which was treated with surgery at a London hospital. In September 2021 it was reported that he had undergone surgery the previous year for a small facial melanoma.
He told the Mail: ‘I don’t make a fuss about stuff like that. It’s like when you have a car — you keep it serviced but even so, you’ll have some trouble with your carburettor and you’ll need to get it fixed, and eventually the whole thing will conk out, and there you go. It’s more about the journey, and mine has been lovely.’
Len Goodman (left) with his son James and father, Leonard, who died aged 79 after a stroke. Len told the Mail recently that he also expected to pass away at the same age. he would have been 79 tomorrow
Len Goodman and his son James, whose mother was Len’s first wife Cherry
Len Goodman, aged 25, dancing with Cherry Kingston in 1970. He would later marry Cherry but they divorced after 15 years of marriage
Len retired last year and said he wanted to spend more time with his wife Sue, and his grandchildren. Pictured: Len with his grandson, Jack
In the same interview he also revealed how he had spent his Saturday nights since retiring – shouting at the TV while watching Strictly and especially Craig Revel Horwood — or ‘bl**dy Craig’ as Len called him.
Bethnal Green-born Len Goodman, who grew up in Blackfen, Bexley, was a professional dancer and teacher who had also been a welder and dreamed of being a professional footballer. He became a national treasure after auditioning for Strictly Come Dancing aged 60 – when most people are looking to retire.
A spokeswoman for Len told MailOnline today: ‘I can confirm he died peacefully over the weekend surrounded by his family’, adding that he was ‘a much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him’.
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood described Len Goodman as a ‘gorgeous colleague and dear friend’ in his moving tribute.
He tweeted: ‘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. Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and ‘It’s a ten from Len & seveeeeern’ will live with me forever. RIP Len’.
Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman said judge Len Goodman was ‘full of twinkle, warmth and wit’. She 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 judge Bruno Tonioli said he will ‘treasure’ the memories of the ‘incredible adventures and hundreds of shows’ he took part in with fellow judge Len Goodman in response to his death.
In an Instagram post, Tonioli wrote, ‘Hart (sic) broken my dear friend and partner for 19 years the one and only ballroom legend #lengoodman passed away
‘I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together @bbcstrictly @dancingwiththestars. They will never be anyone like you. We will miss you’.
Paying tribute to Len Goodman, Dame Esther Rantzen told the PA news agency: ‘I think he was astonished and delighted by what had happened to him at an age when dancers retire or have long retired.
‘I think it really pleased him that ballroom dancing had become the flavour of the month, the country had fallen in love with it again.
‘One of the reasons he succeeded so well in the States is that he was quintessentially British. He was firm, but fair funny, but a gentleman and I hope the nation will adopt his favourite expostulation of ‘pickle me walnuts’.’
Dame Esther also recalled Goodman shouting out his signature number seven on repeat when they took a chairlift with the same number while filming on BBC travel show Holiday Of My Lifetime on the Isle of Wight.
Looking back on the trip she said: ‘He was clearly the mature women’s crumpet because matronly ladies were hurling themselves in his path, probably constantly but certainly on that trip.
‘We were on the beach together wandering around discussing beach holidays, and I was looking fairly dishevelled and he was impeccably dressed, you know, beautiful striped handkerchief and tie and socks all matching perfectly.’
Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars head judge Len Goodman, pictured with his wife Sue Barrett, has died aged 78
Len’s final appearance on Dancing with the Stars in the US last November
Len Goodman with Camilla, the Queen Consort, during a celebratory tea dance at the Victory Services Club in London in 2019
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood described Len Goodman as a ‘gorgeous colleague and dear friend’
Although Len loved giving a ten on Strictly, millions around the country knew him best for the way he delivered a seven to dancers during his 12 years on the show
Len was head judge of Strictly from its launch in 2004 where he was hugely popular with fans for his knowledge, wry humour and enthusiastic marking, especially his catchphrase ‘seven’. He was replaced as head judge on the BBC show by Shirley Ballas in 2016.
As well as Strictly, he also appeared on the US version of the show, Dancing With the Stars from 2005 until November 2022, where he was last seen on TV, declaring he was retiring to spend more time with his wife Sue, and his grandchildren.
Former BBC presenter Dan Walker, who competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 and was friends with Len Goodman, also paid tribute. He tweeted: ‘So sad to hear about the death of Len Goodman. He was an incredible man & an extraordinary talent. Loved making telly with him, being daft with him, playing golf with him & will never forget the little tips he would send every week on Strictly. All my love to his family.’
TV presenter Susanna Reid described Len Goodman as ‘a beautiful man’ after the former Strictly judge’s death.
She tweeted: ‘Oh this is such an awful shock and so sad. Len was an absolute legend & the definition of a proper gent.
‘He was a beautiful man with a huge sense of humour who had such a mischievous turn of phrase.
‘I’ll never forget ‘all bounce, bum & bongos’. My love to his family’.
Strictly contestants, dancers and friends have given their tributes
The King with Charles Dance and Len Goodman (right) in 2018
Born in London, on 25 April 1944, he began his working life as an apprentice welder at Harland and Wolff in Woolwich, and wanted to be a footballer.
He only started dancing aged 20, after his doctor recommended it to help him recover from a foot injury.
He turned professional and enjoyed a successful competitive dancing career, which included winning Dual of the Giants, British Rising Stars, The British Exhibition Championships (four times) and the World Exhibition Championships in the early 1970s.
After retiring he founded the Goodman Dance Academy in Kent. He has been an examiner for the National Association of Teachers of Dance, a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, and an adjudicator for the World Dance Council.
His unrivalled knowledge of Latin and Ballroom, as well as his fondness for well-turned metaphors, made him a favourite with millions of Strictly fans in later years, where his trademark cry of ‘Seven!’ points is heard long after he left the programme.
Len made numerous TV and radio appearances in the UK and was also been a very successful presenter of several shows, as well as starring in the Strictly Live Tour for many years.
He produced many DVDs for the dance teaching industry as well as an instructional DVD for the general public called ‘Dance With Len Goodman’.
He published his autobiography ‘Better Late Than Never: From Barrow Boy to Ballroom’ in 2009, which was followed up by two other books, ‘Len’s Lost London’ and ‘Dancing Around Britain’.
His final words on TV were: ‘He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky. Because that’s just about the truth of it’
He said recently that he laughs every time he thinks of how he auditioned for Strictly on his 60th birthday, a time when most people would be thinking of retirement
Len Goodman has only been retired for a matter of weeks, but he’s discovered a new hobby — shouting at the television while Strictly is on
Len became a household name to a generation of fans after joining Strictly – but was also a celebrated dancer as a younger man
The ballroom star was chuffed with the fuss made of him on his final show in LA. ‘Even donkeys need a carrot’ he said last year
Last November he announced on Dancing With The Stars that he would be hanging up his scoring paddle for the last time at the end of that series, telling viewers: ‘This will be my last season judging Dancing With the Stars.
‘I’ve been on 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 want to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain,’ Goodman added.’
Previously Len had married his dancing partner, Cherry Kingston, but they were later divorced. He then had a long-term relationship with a woman named Lesley and they had a son, James.
He told the Mail last year that it still tickled him that he auditioned for Strictly on his 60th birthday, a time when most people would be thinking of retirement. He still had a mortgage and his dance school, he tells me, was making only a small profit.
Then the great glitterball appeared from the sky, ‘and it changed my life’.
‘I remember coming home to [my wife] Sue saying: ‘They want to pay me £1,000 an episode and they will pick me up in a car, and take me home again.’
For 12 years, he ruled the helm of Strictly, then he was lured to the glossier, US version, Dancing With The Stars. It was an unlikely export, but he soon won them over.
‘Some of the things I came out with did confuse them [The Americans] a bit. I remember saying: ‘Give it some welly’, and they said ‘Willy? What’s a willy?’ But someone said to me, early doors: ‘Be yourself, and be honest’ and I’ve stuck to that, as much as you can.’
‘I’m just a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky’: How Len Goodman went from Cockney welder and aspiring footballer from the East End to professional dancer who landed one of the biggest jobs on TV as a Strictly Come Dancing judge
An accidental dance star, Len Goodman made ballroom dancing accessible to millions of people with his own cockney style.
Born in Bethnal Green in London’s East End, Goodman would work selling fruit and vegetables on his grandfather’s stall.
He later became a welder in the London docks and he was training to become a footballer.
Goodman’s former headteacher predicted he would be a failure in life, and warned him: ‘If you think you are only in this world to have a laugh and enjoy yourself, you will be in for a big shock when you get a job.’
But Goodman turned into an unexpected star after becoming a dancer by accident.
A picture of Len Goodman aged 18 months, which featured in his biography. He accompanied it with the caption: ‘Me at 18 months, although my dad always said I looked Chinese’
Len Goodman is seen on his 11th birthday in a jumper he said was knitted by his grandmother
Len Goodman, pictured dancing with his first wife Cherry Kingston. He won various competitions and retired from dancing after winning the British Championships in his late 20s
Len Goodman took up ballroom dancing aged 19 and specialised in exhibition shows, performing a variety of lifts. He is pictured dancing with his first wife Cherry Kingston
When an injury ended his football career, Goodman took up ballroom dancing aged 19 and specialised in exhibition shows, performing a variety of lifts.
He won various competitions and finally retired from dancing after winning the British Championships in Blackpool in his late twenties.
In his spare time he would don his finest threads and hit the dance floor for what he describes as ‘crumpeteering’.
Appearing on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2011, Goodman described himself as a mod in the 1960s and would dress in tonic suits and well fitted jackets.
Goodman became head judge on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 and also joined the American version Dancing With The Stars in 2005, once again as head judge.
Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli at the Strictly Come Dancing launch in September 2013
Goodman’s extravagant phrases and comparisons in his thick cockney accent on the BBC Show made him a fan favourite.
The judge was well known for his unique way of shouting ‘seven’ when dancers had performed well on the dance shows.
Away from the ballroom, Goodman’s love of music lead to several special shows on BBC Radio 2. He was also a regular deputy for Paul O’Grady on the station.
Goodman, who was a recipient of the Carl Alan Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance, was also the owner of the Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, Kent.
In December Len revealed how he was spending his Saturday nights since retiring shouting at the TV while watching Strictly and especially Craig Revel Horwood — or ‘bl**dy Craig’ as Goodman called him.
Len Goodman, pictured in April 2015, announced his retirement from TV six months ago
Strictly Come Dancing judges (left to right) Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli in 2019
He told the Mail of his father: ‘He loved gardening and he had a stroke while he was out in the garden. He was 79 so if I go the way of my dad, that’ll be next year.’
Goodman suggested at the time that his interviewer, Jenny Johnston, could write his obituary.
He told her: ‘Just write: ‘He was a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky’. Because that’s just about the truth of it.’
Goodman became a judge on Strictly in 2004 and his final appearance was on the 2016 Christmas Day special. He was replaced as head judge on the BBC show by Shirley Ballas.
He announced his retirement from TV six months ago and would have celebrated his 79th birthday tomorrow.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/usshowbiz/article-12006911/How-Len-Goodman-predicted-death-2022-interview.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270