PROFILE
Name:
Dudley Moore
Birth Date:
April 19, 1935
Birth Place:
Dagenham, Essex, England, UK
Nationality:
British
Famous for:
His Oscar-nominated ttitle role in 'Arthur' (1981)
BIOGRAPHY
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Arthur

Background:

In the 1980s, actor Dudley Moore (1935-2002) was well known as Arthur, his title role in a comedy movie. For his witty performance in the film, Moore won a Golden Globe Award and earned an Academy Award nomination. Around the same time, the musician-actor scored success with his performance in the comedic thriller Foul Play (1978), the romantic comedy 10 (1979), the drama Six Weeks (1982) and Blake Edwards’ Micki + Maude (1984, won a Golden Globe Award).

“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.” Dudley Moore

Initially hoping to be a musician, Moore was a resident composer for London’s Royal Court Theater and traveled throughout the United States with the Vic Lewis Orchestra and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1981). He also composed movie scores for The Hat (1964), Bedazzled (1967), 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968) and Six Weeks (1982). Currently, Moore’s musical work can still be heard through recordings produced by Martine Avenue Productions.

Moore, who in 1997 was sued for domestic violence and defamation by estranged wife Nicole Rothschild, underwent open heart surgery in September 1997. In September 1999, it was announced that he suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a degenerative Parkinson’s disease-like brain disorder. On March 27, 2002, he succumbed to pneumonia, which was a side effect of his PSP illness.


Minuscule Musician

Childhood and Family:

Dudley Stuart John Moore, who was later famous simply as Dudley Moore, was born on April 19, 1935, in Dagenham, Essex, England, from working-class parents Ada Francis and John Moore. He had a clubfoot, which was later surgically corrected, and a diminutive stature, only 5’ 2½” (1.59 m).

Despite all the impediments, Cuddly Dudley (his nickname) excelled in music. He became a choirboy at age six and later mastered piano and violin. He also received musical tuition money from his teacher at Dagenham County High School and attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. While studying Music and Composition at Oxford’s Magdalen College, Dudley made a first theater performance with the college’s drama club.

Dudley was married four times: to actress Suzy Kendall (June 1968-September 1972), Tuesday Weld (September 20, 1975-1980, had 1 son: Patrick, born in 1976), Brogan Lane (February 21, 1988-December 1991) and Nicole Rothschild (April 16, 1994-November 1998, had 1 son: Nicholas Anthony, born in 1995). Dudley Moore passed away on March 27, 2002, in Watchung, New Jersey, of pneumonia. He was buried in New Jersey’s Hillside Cemetery.


Beyond the Fringe

Career:

Dudley Moore, who was involved with Oxford’s University Drama Society, became a resident composer for London’s Royal Court Theater, in which his first stage score composition was for “Sergeant Musgrave’s Dance” (1958). The next year, he joined the John Dankworth Band, performed as a jazz pianist at the Duplex in New York City, as well as traveled throughout the United States as a sideman with the Vic Lewis Orchestra.

On Allan Bennett’s suggestion, Moore joined up with the four-man comedy revue “Beyond the Fringe” (1960), staged at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. For the production, which was revived on a London stage (1961), a Broadway stage (1962) and on TV (1964), Moore performed alongside Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook, his future frequent collaborator.

As a pianist, Moore worked in London nightclubs, became a musician for the film Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), appeared playing piano in the movie The Third Alibi (1961, unaccredited) and composed the music for the animated The Hat (1964). During 1965-1970, he and Peter Cook co-wrote and headlined the BBC comedy sketch series “Not Only ... But Also.”

After playing John Finsbury in the comedy The Wrong Box (1966), Moore co-wrote the story of Bedazzled (1967), with Cook. In the comedy movie, Moore also did score composition and acting. He then created his first movie script for the romantic comedy 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia (1968, also composed), where he costarred as Rupert Street, opposite future wife Suzy Kendall. The actor also appeared in the black comedy The Bed Sitting Room (1969, as the sergeant) and provided the music for Staircase (1969).

On stage, Moore was given a lead role in the London staging of Woody Allen’s comedy “Play It Again, Sam” (1970). He next starred with Cook in the TV film An Apple a Day (1971), became the Dormouse in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972) and was credited as a musician in the short project Pianorama (1974). A year later, he settled down in L.A.

Moore guest performed in “When Things Were Rotten” (1975) and narrated Monty Phyton’s Pleasure at Her Majesty’s (1976, TV), before delivering a fine performance as Stanley Tibbets in the comedic thriller Foul Play (1978). For his effort in the latter, Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

Another Golden Globe nomination arrived, this time for Best Actor, after the actor starred as George Webber, a married songwriter going through a mid-life crisis, in the romantic comedy 10 (1979). The executive producer of Derek and Clive Get the Horn (1979) then shared the screen with Laraine Newman in the fantasy movie Wholly Moses (1980). In 1981, he briefly revisited music by performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a Gershwin salute performance.

Moore earned his big break when filmmaker Steve Gordon cast him to star as the titular sluggish and alcoholic character in the romantic comedy Arthur (1961). Before long, the actor took home a Golden Globe award and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Detouring to the drama genre, Moore was cast as politician Patrick Dalton in Six Weeks (1982) and received another Golden Globe nomination for his notable performance in After Romantic Comedy (1983). The actor then presented a Golden Globe-winning portrayal of bigamist Rob Salinger in Blake Edwards’ Micki + Maude (1984).

Next up for Moore, he played a wisecracking elf in Santa Claus (1985), became the narrator in the Japanese Koneko monogatari (1986), acted with Kirk Cameron in Like Father Like Son (1987) and reprised his signature role in the self-produced Arthur II: On the Rocks (1988). Three years later, he co-hosted the Showtime mini documentary series “Orchestra,” along with Sir Georg Solti.

In the 1990s, Moore took part in such comedy projects as Crazy People (1990), Blame It on the Bellboy (1992), “Dudley” (1993), “Daddy’s Girls” (1994) and A Weekend in the Country (1996, TV). Meanwhile, his voice could be heard as Spin in the National Geographic series “Really Wild Animals” (1997). Before his death, Dudley Moore did voice acting in the animated series “Oscar’s Orchestra” (2002), as the title character.


Awards:

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, Micki + Maude, 1985
  • Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor - Comedy/Musical, Arthur, 1982
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