Goodman died at 78 in April after a battle with bone cancer, his agent confirmed at the time. A few months prior, he retired from Dancing With the Stars, saying he wanted to “spend more time with my grandchildren and family” in the United Kingdom.
Ribeiro started off the show by acknowledging Goodman’s absence, saying, “We’re obviously missing a big part of our Dancing With the Stars family tonight.”
“Len was on this panel for nearly all of our 31 seasons. And although he is irreplaceable, we wanted to keep his spirit alive,” Hough added.
“And that’s why, as a tribute to him, we redesigned and renamed our ultimate prize,” Ribeiro said before introducing the newly renamed Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy.
Earlier this month, DWTS executive producer Conrad Green revealed to USA Today that the infamous mirrorball trophy had officially been renamed to honor Goodman.
“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,” Green said at the time. “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.”
Hough added during the premiere, “It is so fantastic that Len will always be going forward with us.” She also teased a “spectacular tribute to Len from our dancers” in the coming weeks.
Before Goodman appeared on Dancing With the Stars in 2005 until 2022, he was a head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, the British version of the show, from its launch on the BBC in 2004 until 2016.