“Though he is certainly irreplaceable, … we wanted to keep his spirit alive,” host Julianne Hough said of Goodman during the Tuesday, September 26, episode. Her cohost, Alfonso Ribeiro, then motioned to the winner’s trophy, which has been renamed the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy in honor of the late ballroom dancer.
“It’s so fantastic that Len will always be going forward with us,” Hough, 35, said.
Prior to the season 32 premiere, Dancing With the Stars announced the prize’s new name. “The Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy will now be lifted on Dancing With the Stars like the Vince Lombardi trophy is lifted at the Super Bowl,” executive producer Conrad Green told USA Today on Wednesday, September 20. “We wanted to make Len a permanent part of this show, to always remind people the importance he’s had to Dancing With the Stars and how much he meant to all of us.”
Green also noted that the premiere was dedicated to Goodman. “Len loves this show and will always be there, looking down on us,” he said.
Earlier this month, Strictly Come Dancing — the BBC equivalent of Dancing With the Stars — honored Goodman, who served as a judge on the competition series from 2004 to 2016, during its season 21 premiere. Host Claudia Winkleman, judges Anton Du Beke and Craig Revel Horwood and more shared fond remembrances of their late costar during the September 16 episode.
“In April of this year, the undisputed king of ballroom Len Goodman sadly passed away,” Winkleman said. “He was part of Strictly Come Dancing from the very beginning, and he was crucial to the success of the show. He meant so much to all of us and we’d like to share some of our favorite memories of Len with you.”
As for his tenure on Dancing With the Stars, Goodman announced in November 2022 that season 31 would be his last as a judge. “I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005 and it has been a huge pleasure to be part of such a wonderful show, but I’ve decided I would like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain,” he explained at the time. “I cannot thank you enough, the Dancing With the Stars family. It’s been such a wonderful experience for me.”
Five months later, Goodman’s agent, Jackie Gill, confirmed his death following a private battle with bone cancer. “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78,” Gill said in a statement to Us Weekly. “A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.