Longtime “Dancing With the Stars” head judge Len Goodman announced on the Monday, November 14 live show that he is retiring at the end of season 31. Now in an interview with People, the ballroom legend has opened up about his decision, what he’ll miss most from the show and whether he thought “Dancing With the Stars” would be successful when it first began.
Len Goodman Said He’ll Miss ‘The Camaraderie’ With the Cast
In the interview, Goodman said that he will definitely miss the cast and his fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough.
“I will miss the California sunshine, working with my fellow judges and the camaraderie with everyone on the show. I’ll miss seeing the celebrities developing into dancers and I will miss being part of one of the most successful shows on TV,” said Goodman.
He also revealed that a lot of people thought “Dancing With the Stars” would be a flop back when it began in 2005, but he had a feeling it would be a success.
“I always had a feeling it would be a hit, as whatever was popular in Britain on TV at the time is normally good here and vice versa, and ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ was already very big,” said the ballroom judge, referring to the U.K. version of the show, which premiered a year earlier than “Dancing With the Stars.”
He added, “However, the majority of Americans were convinced that nobody would be interested in watching ballroom dancing and that it would be a flop. How wrong they were!”
Goodman was also quick to rattle off some of his favorite memories over the 31 seasons, like when he danced a Viennese waltz with Nastia Liukin, or when Jerry Springer learned to dance for his daughter’s wedding, or meeting some of his heroes on the show.
“Meeting some of the great artists that have been singing on the show such Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, to name a few… and meeting some of my sporting heroes, who either competed on the show or were watching in the audience, from the world of baseball, football, boxing, skiing, race car driving, and ice skating. I had so much fun recording ‘Dance Center’ for a few years with Kenny Mayne and Jerry Rice. It always took twice as long as it should have done to record because we kept laughing so much!” Goodman shared.
Goodman is Retiring to Spend More Time With His Family
Goodman was 61 years old when “Dancing With the Stars” debuted and now he is 78 and he told People that he just isn’t as young as he used to be, so it’s good to go out before he starts drooling at the judges’ table.
“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. 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!” he said.
On the live show when he announced his retirement, Goodman said he is looking forward to spending more times with his grandchildren, a sentiment he echoed in the People interview.
“Retirement looks like more time to be with family and friends and enjoy the grandchildren whilst they are still young and don’t answer me back!” he quipped.
He then said he’s “sure there are plenty of people who are happy that [he’s] leaving,” but “hopefully there will be some that are sad too.”
If the social media posts and interviews are any indication, plenty of people are very sad.
“Congratulations on your retirement and your next chapter! I love you, Sir Lenny Goodman. I’m going to miss you. And yes… I’m still crying,” wrote Inaba on Instagram.
“Dear Len, enjoy more time with grandkids and take care of yourself. You’re appreciated, loved, admierd and respected,” wrote former pro Anna Trebunskaya on her Instagram stories.
Pro Emma Slater told Page Six, ““It got me in my feels, if I’m honest. It caught me off guard. I didn’t expect to feel as emotional as I was. Len, I’ve known him since I was 10 years old. He would judge competitions [in England] and he would always want me to win,” said Slater, adding, “I went to every competition that he judged and my parents were elated every time he was on the panel. I remember going up to him as a kid and thanking him for believing in me. Twenty years later, I did the same thing tonight … and I cried my eyes out again.”
Goodman’s last show will be the season 31 finale, which airs Monday, November 21 at 8 p.m. Eastern and 5 p.m. Pacific times on Disney Plus.