Stephen “tWitch” Boss, best known as the dancing DJ and sidekick on The Ellen Show, has died by suicide at 40.
Confirming the news to People magazine, the TV star’s wife Allison Holker Boss said he was “the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans”.
Boss became an integral part of Ellen DeGeneres’ US talk show from 2014, until it finished earlier this year.
DeGeneres tweeted on Wednesday to say she was “heartbroken” at the news.
She described the American freestyle hip-hop dancer and actor as “pure love and light”. “He was my family, and I loved him with all my heart,” she wrote. “I will miss him.”
I’m heartbroken. 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. pic.twitter.com/lW8Q5HZonx— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) December 14, 2022
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to the BBC that its West Valley Division officers responded to an “ambulance death investigation” radio call at a motel on Ventura Boulevard on Tuesday.
There were no signs of foul play and the case has been handed the over to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.
After appearing as a dancer in movies like Blades of Glory and Hairspray, Boss first found fame as a runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance in 2008.
One of his dances was nominated for an Emmy for best choreography and he later returned to the show as a judge.
The Alabama-born entertainer went on to work as an actor, featuring in the Step Up film series and later Magic Mike XXL, and was also made an executive producer on The Ellen Show in 2020.
Before the long-running show ended in May, DeGeneres surprised him with a special tribute: “Over a decade ago, I met someone who changed my life, and our show… And I’m talking about you tWitch.”
“I love you so much,” she told him, noting how “you always make me smile and laugh” with a dance or a song.
An emotional Boss replied: “I love you and also I love the family that we’ve gained, and something that I’ll always remember was you gave me a place where I can just be myself.
“I came here to dance one time, to do a dance course for you, and now I’ve gained a family.”
“And whether I was a real DJ or not…” he added, jokingly. “I always felt at home!”
‘Save the last dance’
Paying tribute on Wednesday, his wife, a fellow dancer with whom he co-hosted Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, said: “Stephen lit up every room he stepped into.”
She added: “He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him.”
“Stephen, we love you, we miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you.”
The couple, who met on an all-star season of So You Think You Can Dance, had three children – and the family appeared together on the The Ellen show.
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson urged them all to “stay strong”, posting online that he was “so sorry to hear the heart-breaking news”.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends to the struggle,” he said. “You never know what’s happening between the ears.”
More star names from the worlds of entertainment, the arts and sport have been paying their respects to Boss, recalling memories of him and expressing their feelings on social media.
Shocked and saddened to hear the news of @official_tWitch death. Twitch was a warm, joyful, and loving person that I had the honor of working with on tv a bit. Always the most genuine and down to earth and humble energy. Sending his family my deepest sympathies. #RIPTwitch pic.twitter.com/zXV1Ybs48M— ADAM LAMBERT (@adamlambert) December 14, 2022
So much LIFE,Light,and Love exuded from this Wonderful Man’s Soul.— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) December 14, 2022
Hard to understand.Difficult to accept. May the Comforter rest upon his Family. #RIPTwitch 👑🕺🏾🕊️ pic.twitter.com/YwlTDz4zeX