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Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the beloved DJ-turned-executive producer who helped get the audience to their feet for nine years on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and who got his big break on So You Think You Can Dance, has died at 40.
The dancer, choreographer, actor and producer died by suicide on Tuesday, a rep confirmed. Wife Allison Holker Boss also confirmed the news in a statement, highlighting her husband’s light and legacy.
Boss died in a Los Angeles hotel room, per the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us,” said Holker on Wednesday. “Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans.”
Her statement continued, “To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt. I am certain there won’t be a day that goes by that we won’t honor his memory. We ask for privacy during this difficult time for myself and especially for our three children.”
She also shared a message to her husband, “Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you.”
The pair met on So You Think You Can Dance in 2010 and have three children together. Boss is best known as a fan-favorite from SYTYCD, as well as for his years on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“I’m heartbroken,” wrote DeGeneres on Instagram in reaction to the news. “tWitch was pure love and light. He was my family, and I loved him with all my heart. I will miss him. Please send your love and support to Allison and his beautiful children – Weslie, Maddox, and Zaia.”
Boss, who earned the nickname “tWitch” as a teenager when he would dance in school and church, was born in Montgomery, Alabama. He went on to study dance performance at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, Alabama, and Chapman University.
The hip-hop dancer and TV personality got his Hollywood start on talent competition Star Search, where he was a runner-up, and in 2003 as a finalist on MTV’s The Wade Robson Project.
In 2008, he again placed runner-up, this time on the popular Fox competition show So You Think You Can Dance, where he would go on to meet Holker. The pro dancers were all-stars together on the seventh season in 2010, and got together at the end of that year’s competition.
“We shared a dance at the wrap party of that season of So You Think You Can Dance and we have been together ever since,” Boss told People earlier this year. “There was no dialogue, there was no conversation or a first hangout. Literally, we danced and we were together holding hands the very next day. And we never looked back.”
The couple married in a Paso Robles, California, ceremony in 2013 and have three children: daughters Weslie, 14, and Zaia, 2; and son Maddox, 6.
The Bosses co-hosted Freeform’s unscripted series Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, as well as the holiday special Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic.
Boss has also appeared in dancer roles on the big screen, including in Magic Mike XXL and several Step Up films, and has made appearances in series such as Modern Family.
In 2014, Boss joined The Ellen DeGeneres Show as a guest DJ, eventually becoming a breakout star on the series, and a co-executive producer in 2020. He went on to play sidekick to DeGeneres on her game show spinoff Ellen’s Game of Games, which ran from 2017 to 2021.
“Over nine years I got married, expanded the family and did a lot of great things; got to dance with a lot of great people,” he said earlier this year on Today when reflecting on his journey with DeGeneres after The Ellen DeGeneres Show signed off the air. “You can tell [Ellen] is putting so much love, so much kindness into the world, and to see that reflected back, that’s what was really getting me in the last couple of days [of the show].”
The pair had a teary-eyed final televised chat when the show wrapped, after 19 years, in May of 2022. “We always tell each other we love each other. Every single day, we say goodbye and we say, ‘I love you.’ This atmosphere is a family,” the iconic host shared while sitting onstage with Boss. “We’ve been able to help people. Who’s dancing during the day, not being drunk? There’s a joy that has happened, and it’s created from this family atmosphere.” She also dedicated a surprise on-air tribute to Boss, “someone who changed my life, and our show.”
Boss met DeGeneres on his first season of SYTYCD, when the pair did a dance together. After Ellen wrapped, Boss returned to So You Think You Can Dance as a judge on this year’s 17th season, after the Emmy-winning reality had taken nearly three years off the air and undergone some changes.
“Now, as the Ellen show is coming to a close, I’m going back to So You Think You Can Dance, so that full wraparound is something serious,” he added of his full-circle moment. “Dancing has kind of always been my thing. There are people who love sports, and dancing has always been that thing for me.”
On Wednesday morning, social media tributes and remembrances rolled in, including from longtime Ellen executive producer Andy Lassner, who tweeted a solemn, “Rest, my friend.”
Ellen show producers Warner Bros. Television group said in a statement, “We are shocked and heartbroken by the tragic news of the passing of Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss. tWitch was a multi-faceted talent and integral part of The Ellen DeGeneres Show and our Warner Bros. Television Group family. He had the ability to bring communities of people together each day to share in joy and laughter. Most importantly, he was a beloved friend, husband, and father. We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to his family, friends, and fans.”
Dec. 14, 10 a.m. Updated with DeGeneres, Lassner, WBTV reactions.
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