Len Goodman, the occasional curmudgeon on Dancing With the Stars, has been building his successful career since the age of 20. The 67-year-old judge has seen a lot, danced a lot, and learned a lot. We've been getting to know him throughout the seasons of DWTS, but here are 10 things about Len's life that you might not have known. Trust us: a couple are doozies.
10. Len will be featured in the 2011 season of the UK genealogy series called Who Do You Think You Are?
9. Len's ancestors were certainly not as successful as he is. While taping Who Do You Think You Are?, Len learned that two of his family members died in a Bethnal Green workhouse, which is a place where poor people who couldn’t support themselves were given work and accommodations. He was shocked to learn of the extreme poverty and horrible conditions.
8. Len isn't supportive of wars, especially when it comes to taxes. When discussing his feelings on England’s taxation system in 2005, Len said, “I don’t begrudge paying tax, but I do resent where my money goes, like the war in Iraq. I would channel more of taxpayers’ money into policing the streets and care for the elderly.”
7. Len's a big soccer fan! The DWTS judge is a staunch West Ham United fan and was featured on the BBC football (what Brits call soccer) magazine show Football Focus on September 16, 2009. It caused great controversy, to which he simply replied, "One does not have to support the team where one was born."
6. During a summer vacation in Monte Carlo, Len’s first wife, Cherry, who was also a dancer, met a French man named Michel while the couple was having a drink in the casino. Immediately after the trip, she jetsetted to Paris to introduce Michel to her mother and leave Len for good. Ouch. Over the next few days, he laid all of her belongings out neatly on her mother’s lawn and had the locks changed. A lover scorned! Happy ending: Len’s third wife, Sue, who is 37 years his junior, seems to be the partner Len was waiting for.
5. Following in his dad’s footsteps (pun intended), Len’s son, James, is a Latin and Ballroom dance teacher at the Goodman Dance Centre and once toured with the musical Annie.
4. After Saturday Night Fever came out, Len’s dance school took off and business boomed as he offered popular dance classes. He also held a Saturday night youth disco throughout the '70s and '80s.
3. Len’s grandfather, whom he lived with as a boy, was a “costermonger,” which is an old term for street traders dealing in fruit and vegetables. When he was little, Len helped him clean rotting vegetables for resale. (His grandfather eventually opened multiple greengrocers.) His grandmother used to wash him in a beetroot boiler that sat in their backyard and then cook beetroot for customers.
2. He's a matchmaker! As a kid, Len snuck out of his house against his mom’s wishes, and went to swim in a nearby pool, where he fell and needed stitches. A man volunteered to take him to the hospital, waited while he got help, and then brought him back to his recently-divorced mother. She offered him a cup of tea for his troubles and they were married eight months later.
1. After giving up ballroom dancing for “rock ‘n’ roll” and not being one for academics, Len wrote, “I ended up leaving school at 15 to become a welder, working on the docks for ship-building firms. I loved playing football and taking girls out, but my dad kept going on at me to try ballroom dancing again. But then, when I was 20, I broke my foot playing five-a-side after work. Guess what the doctor suggested as a way of rehabilitating it? Yes, ballroom dancing.” It was meant to be!
Sources: Daily Mail, Telegraph, The Sunday Times