“So You Think You Can Dance” judge Mary Murphy is remembering Stephen “tWitch” Boss after his death at the age of 40 on Tuesday.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, the 64-year-old former ballroom champion expressed her sadness over the loss of her former fellow “SYTYCD” judge, who first rose to fame as a contestant on the dance competition show’s fourth season in 2008.
“Everybody loved him so much,” Murphy said through tears.
She continued, “And the show and the cast and Jeff Zucker, who is also executive producer, he’s kind of the nuts and bolts behind the whole show, but he’s with the dancers day in and day out. You know, he’s there every time they have a meltdown and gets them through it.”
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“It is very grueling,” the choreographer added. “Of course, they make it look easy, and in a short period of time, it’s just mind-boggling what tWitch was able to accomplish on that show.”
“To make us feel something in a minute and 30 seconds is a gift and to make us laugh and to make us cry. It was incredible.”
Murphy recalled meeting tWitch for the first time when he auditioned for the third season of “SYTYCD” in 2007. The hip-hop dancer appeared on the show but was ultimately not chosen to compete in the top 20.
“I definitely saw something in him from the very, very beginning,” she said. “There was something about him. I said he had twinkle eye. You know, he had, of course, a great big smile that lit up that stage.”
Boss returned to the show for the fourth season and was selected for the top 20. He ultimately became the season 4 runner-up behind winner Joshua Allen.
“He came back, and he was ready,” Murphy recalled. “We saw that he improved. And so the last day came with that Hollywood week, and he came up, and he did a number that was the most defining moment of his career, and that’s when he danced to a classical piece, and he used his body and made us see all the instruments that were being played in that symphony.”
“And there was no way that we weren’t going to take him,” she added. “We were all were so ecstatic that he has now risen to the occasion and is becoming the dancer that we always knew he’d become. And from that moment on, he just soared.”
Murphy remembered another major highlight from Boss’ time on “SYTYCD” when he returned as an all-star on season 7 in 2010. In the season finale, Ellen DeGeneres joined Boss for a surprise performance of “Outta Your Mind” by Lil Jon and LMFAO.
Earlier in the season, Boss and ballet dancer Alex Wong had performed a standout routine to the same song that has been hailed as one of the show’s most memorable performances. In 2014, Boss became a guest DJ on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and took on the role of co-executive producer in 2020.
“It was just such a magical moment in ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ history,” Murphy said. “He left us with a legacy of work on television that the whole world can see.”
“Of course, his kids are legacy to him,” Murphy added. “I know he loved them dearly and his wife dearly.”
Boss was married to 34-year-old dancer Allison Holker, who was also a contestant on the show and later returned as an all-star. The pair met during the show’s seventh season and tied the knot after three years of dating in December 2013. The couple shared daughters Weslie Renae, 14, and Zaia, 3, and son Maddox Laurel, 6.
“This was a fairy tale for us to have two of our contestants get married,” Murphy said. “It makes me so sad to see this fairy tale end. I just send all my love to Allison and her three children. And I just want to send only love and pray for them, you know, to get through this time.”
In 2018, Boss became a judge on “SYTYCD,” joining Murphy, series creator Nigel Lythgoe and Vanessa Hudgens for the show’s 15th season. Murphy told Fox News Digital that Boss had never spoken about mental health during her time working with him on the judges panel.
“It was always joy, laughter, kidding around on the set,” she said. Murphy said that she and Lythgoe were like the “proud mama and papa” of Boss and the other contestants.
“And to have him come full circle and be on that panel with us, any of the contestants that guest-judged on the show, is such a personal, gratifying matter for us,” she said. “We’ve had a little bit of part of nurturing someone’s dance career, and we got to sit there front row and center and watch it all, the wonderful dance routines and choreographers that helped him with the dancing. It’s very, very special to me.”
Murphy told Fox News Digital that she found it unfathomable that Boss would take his own life. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed that the “Magic Mike XXL” actor died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a Los Angeles-area hotel.
She explained that dancing is “such a healing art form.” “It definitely saved my life. And I’m sure he felt at the time it was saving his life.”
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Murphy went on to say that she wanted Boss to be remembered for the joy that he shared with the world through his dance.
“Not everybody that is a great dancer can do that,” she said. “It’s a rarity. There’s so many amazing, great technical dancers in and around the world. And not everybody can show it.”
She continued, “He had that gift from early on. And to do intricate and very difficult moves and still be able to look like it’s a walk in the park, and he makes it look easy. It’s incredibly difficult.”
Murphy added, “He had a very difficult young adult life. But look where he’s come. His hard work paid off, and he’s incredibly blessed, which just makes it so much sadder.”
Boss and Holker were known for sharing dance videos to their social media pages, some of which featured their children. Murphy said that she used to really enjoy watching their clips.
“It just became part of your life to have these little jams that you get to watch every day,” she said. “And I’m really going to miss that. I’m really going to miss him.”
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If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).