10 things you may not know about 'Dancing with the Stars' judge Len Goodman

With recent speculation proven false about 74-year-old Len Goodman retiring from "Dancing with the Stars," the question comes to mind: How did Len Goodman get to be at the judging table in the first place?

Len Goodman has been in the dancing industry for over five decades. He is a recipient of the Carl Alan Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to dance and has been winning dancing awards since his twenties.

This and other facts you may not have known about the grumpy yet lovable character from your favorite show below:

10. EARLY CHILDHOOD

Len Goodman's parents were Leonard Gordon Goodman and Louisa Adelaide. He was born into a poor family and they lived with his grandparents in a tiny little house.

His grandfather worked at a street stall selling vegetables and fruit where Len would usually help out. His parents moved to Blackfen when he was 6, but they split up after a few years and his mother raised him alone.

9. PLAYING CUPID

Goodman snuck out of his house as a child to go for a late night swim at a nearby pool. As luck would have it, he fell and needed stitches. A kind man brought him home and eight months later, married Len's mother.

8. SUCCESS IS FAILURE TURNED INSIDE OUT

Len quit school as a teenager to work as an apprentice welder at the Woolwich dockyards. When he broke a bone in his foot playing football, his doctor recommended he take up dancing as a light exercise.

As a youngster, he was reportedly told by his school headmaster:

“It is obvious you’re never going to amount to anything, Goodman. You’re a failure at school and you’ll be a failure in life.”

7. DANCE LIKE NOBODY IS WATCHING

Goodman started dancing at the age of 19 because a friend told him there were 30 girls to only 4 boys in the dance class. He quickly turned professional and won numerous competitions in Europe.

But Goodman had a natural talent for dancing and found himself partnered with world champion and local coach Henry Kingston's daughter, Cherry.

Len and Cherry went on to win the British Exhibition Championships four times and the World Exhibition Championships. He retired after winning the British Championships at Blackpool while in his late 20's.

6. GOODMAN'S DANCE SCHOOL

Goodman was a professional dancer, winning many awards, until age 28 after which he focused on building up his own successful dance school. 

After John Travolta's "Saturday Night Fever" made dancing cool again, Goodman's school really took off when he started capitalizing on the dance craze by hosting Saturday night youth disco classes.

5. "STRICTLY COME DANCING"

Len Goodman was invited to join the judging panel for the UK’s "Strictly Come Dancing" in 2004 because the producers enjoyed his quirky sense of humor.

At the time, Goodman thought the show wouldn't last very long because he wasn't confident that people would be interested in ballroom dancing. He retired from the show in 2016.

4. "DANCING WITH THE STARS"

Len has been the head judge for the US version of "Strictly Come Dancing" since 2005. He left the show for one season and then returned to take up his position once again.

3. PROSTATE CANCER

Goodman is very old school and stoic by nature. He secretly battled cancer in 2009 but continued doing the show without taking time off.

In fact, he didn't even mention to his colleagues on the show that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and only underwent surgery when he arrived back home.

2. MARRIAGE

Goodman had been married to his longtime dance partner, Cherry Kingston when she fell for a French millionaire while on vacation to Monte Carlo and left him.

After Kingston, Goodman had another relationship which resulted in the birth of his son, James William Goodman on January 26, 1981. James moved away with his mother after Len and her split up.

His marriage to Sue Barrett was kept a secret even to the guests who had been invited to a dinner that evening and realized it was a wedding only moments before the ceremony.

1. NET WORTH

Goodman's dancing school was a success before he became a television personality, but it would be safe to assume he is a multi-millionaire. He famously told The Telegraph:

“I have no clue what I earn really.”

Did you know any of these things about Len Goodman? 

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