Dudley Moore, the gifted comedian who had at least three distinct career phases that brought him great acclaim and success, actually started out as a musical prodigy as a child. Moore -- born in Dagenham, Essex, England to working class parents in 1935 -- won a music scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, to study the organ. At university, he also studied composition and became a classically trained pianist, though his forte on the piano for public performance was jazz. After graduating from Magdalen College in 1958, Moore was offered a position as organist at King's College, Cambridge, but turned it down in order to go to London and pursue a music and acting career. Fellow Oxonian Alan Bennett (Exter Colelge, B.A., Medieval History, 1957) had already recommended him to John Bassett, who was putting together a satirical comedy revue called "Beyond The Fringe". "Beyond The Fringe" was to be Moore's first brush with fame, along with co-stars Bennett, future theatrical director Jonathan Miller (now Sir Jonathan, who studied Medicine at Cambridge and was a physician), and Peter Cook, who was destined to become Moore's comic partner during the 1960s and '70s.
It was Miller who had recommended Cook for "Beyond the Fringe", in much the same way that Bennett had bird-dogged Moore. Cook, who had studied modern languages at Cambridge, had been part of the famous Cambridge theatrical, the Footlights revue in 1959, had subsequently gone to London to star in a West End revue for Kenneth Williams, "Pieces of Eight". This old-fashioned review was such a success there was a sequel, "One Over The Eight". He was advised by his agent not to star in the fringe with the three others as he was a professional whereas they were amateurs. Ironically, the great success of "Beyond the Fringe", which was a new kind of satirical comedy, would doom the very old-fashioned reviews that Cook had just tasted success in. "Beyond the Fringe" not only won great acclaim in the UK, but it was a hit in the U.S.. The four won a special Tony Award in 1963 for their Broadway production of "Beyond The Fringe" and there was a television program made of the revue in 1964.
Moore and Cook were offered the TV show "Not Only... But Also" (1965) by the BBC in 1965. Peter Cook was on as a guest. Their pairing was so successful, it enjoyed a second season in 1966 and a third in 1970. They were particularly funny as the working-class characters "Pete" and "Dud". The duo then broke into the movies, including The Wrong Box (1966) and Bedazzled (1967). In 1974, the duo won their second Tony Award for their show "Good Night", which was the stage version of their TV series "Not Only... But Also".
In the mid- to late 1970s, they issued three comic albums in the guise of the characters "Derek" and "Clive" (Moore and Cook, respectively), two lavatory attendants that many viewed as reincarnations of their earlier TV characters "Pete" and "Dud". The albums, ad libbed in a recording studio while the two drank vast quantities of alcohol, were noted at the time for their obscenity. Their typical routine was a stream-of-consciousness fugue by Cook, interspersed with interjections by Moore. With their obscenity-laden, free-formed riffs, Derke and Clive presaged the more free-wheeling shock comedy of the 1980s and '90s.
After marrying American actress Tuesday Weld in 1975, Moore moved to the U.S. and began a second career as a solo screen comedian, stealing the show from Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn as the horny conductor in the movie comedy Foul Play (1978). When George Segal dropped out of the movie 10 (1979), director Blake Edwards cast Moore in the lead role as the composer undergoing a mid-life crisis. It was a huge hit, but was surpassed by his Oscar-nominated turn as the dipsomaniac billionaire in Arthur (1981). In the early 1980s, Moore was a top box office attraction. In 1983, the National Alliance of Theater Owners named him the Top Box Office Star-Male of the Year.
His career began petering out after he turned down the lead in Splash (1984), a role that helped establish Tom Hanks as a top movie comedian and position him for his transition into movie drama and super-stardom. As Hanks star waxed, Moore's star waned, and by 1985 he was reduced to playing an elf in Santa Claus (1985), one of the all time turkeys. Even a second turn as "Arthur" in Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988) couldn't revive his box office, the dependent clause of the title all too well describing his career. His TV series "Dudley" (1993) [TV-Series] was a bust, and the 1990s proved a wasteland for the once-honored and prosperous comedian.
Moore was deeply affected by the January 1995 death of Peter Cook by a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at the age of 57. Moore organized a two-day memorial to Cook in Los Angeles that was held in November 1995. Less than four years later, in September 1999, Moore announced that he was afflicted with progressive supra-nuclear palsy, a disease for which there is no treatment.
Dudley Moore was invested as a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (one step below knighthood) in June 2001. Moore personally attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace to accept his CBE from Prince Charles, despite being unable to speak and being wheelchair-bound. He died in Watchung, New Jersey on March 27, 2002, from the pneumonia related to progressive supra-nuclear palsy. He was 66 years old.
Dudley Moore was married four times, to actresses Suzy Kendall, Tuesday Weld, Brogan Lane and 'Nicole Rothschild', and had two sons, one with Tuesday Weld and one with Nicole Rothschild.
|Nicole Rothschild||(16 April 1994 - November 1998) (divorced) 1 child|
|Brogan Lane||(21 February 1988 - December 1991) (divorced)|
|Tuesday Weld||(20 September 1975 - 1980) (divorced) 1 child|
|Suzy Kendall||(15 June 1968 - September 1972) (divorced)|
Arrested and charged with suspicion of domestic violence on a cohabitant. [March 1994]
He appeared in the music video and sang in the choir on the song "Voices That Care."
Underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery, and thereafter suffered four minor strokes in swift succession. [25 September 1997]
Moore was born with a clubfoot that was surgically corrected in his youth.
In the 1950s he was a regular member of The Johnny Dankworth Seven where established himself as an accomplished jazz pianist.
Son Nicholas Anthony (with Nicole Rothschild) born. [28 June 1995]
Co-owner of the restaurant "72 Market Street" in Venice, Los Angeles.
Attended Magdalen College, Oxford University, England, graduating in 1958.
Son Patrick (with Tuesday Weld) was born in 1976.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to Anglo-American film and theatre. Despite bad health, he traveled to Buckingham Palace in London, England to receive the CBE.
He was cared for in his final days and through burial in Plainfield, New Jersey by long-time friend and pianist Rena Fruchter.
Friend of short films writer/editor/director Andrew Michael Jolley
Turned down a job offer as organist at King's College, Cambridge, to launch his music and acting career.
Godfather of Peter Cook's eldest daughter, Lucy.
In 1983 won the NATO Male Star of the Year Award.
Was the first choice to play "Henry Fine" in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), only to be replaced by George Segal (who was, ironically, replaced by Moore in the role of "George Webber" in 10 (1979)). In an interview following his announcement that he had supranuclear palsy, he revealed that he was dismissed from the role because he had trouble remembering his lines.
Has won two Special Tony Awards: in 1963, along with his "Beyond the Fringe" co-stars Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, and Jonathan Miller, "for their brilliance which has shattered all the old concepts of comedy," in a show that was recreated in a television version of the same title, Beyond the Fringe (1964) (TV); and in 1974, shared with co-author and co-star Peter Cook for their show "Good Evening."
Was a classically trained pianist.
A bar/restaurant in Cromwell, Connecticut, USA is named in honor of him.
Turned down the lead role in Splash (1984).
Interred in Hillside Cemetery, Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Has claimed he preferred Arthur 2: On the Rocks to the original Arthur.
In one of his early comedy sketches Moore played a wacky pianist named Bo Dudley, a Little Richard lookalike, wearing sunglasses (1966).
His favorite movie star was Gene Kelly.
"I can't imagine not having music in my life, playing for myself or for other people. If I was asked, 'Which would you give up,' I'd have to say acting," he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1988.
I certainly did feel inferior. Because of class. Because of strength. Because of height...I guess if I'd been able to hit somebody in the nose...I wouldn't have been a comic.
I think my own desire to be loved is what makes me sexually attractive.
The confidence I now have is rooted in the discovery that who I am is okay.
The ability to enjoy your sex life is central. I don't give a shit about anything else. My obsession is total. What else is there to live for?
I have a very ribald sense of humor, which is conventionally known as obscene.
[on John Gielgud] He was always coming out with these sweet, corny theatrical anecdotes, and he's got a sort of mucky sense of humor. I mean everybody thinks he reads Chaucer all day, and in fact he loves reading Harold Robbins.
I try to seduce.
(2005) Release of the book, "Dudley Moore: An Intimate Portrait" by Rena Fruchter.
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