Who was Dudley Moore?

The late British actor, comedian and musician Dudley Stuart John Moore, was born in Charing Cross Hospital, London, England, on 19 April 1935, meaning that Aries was his zodiac sign. He appeared in 49 movies and TV series prior to his death in 2002, and is perhaps still remembered best for playing the lead character Arthur Bach in the 1981 romantic comedy movie “Arthur”, written and directed by Steve Gordon, and which also starred Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud. It follows alcoholic Arthur Bach who has to marry a woman whom he doesn’t love if he wants to inherit the $750 billion fortune, however, he’s now fallen for a poor waitress; the movie won 11 of its 17 award nominations, including two Oscar wins for Best Music, Original Song and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Gielgud).

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Education and early life

Dudley was raised alongside his older sister Barbara in Dagenham, Essex by their father John Moore who was a railway electrician, and mother Ada Francis (nee Hughes) who was a secretary.

Dudley was bullied at elementary school because of his short stature and club feet; he underwent corrective treatment, and his right foot was ‘fixed’ by the time he turned six, however, his left foot remained twisted, and his left leg withered below the knee for the rest of his life. He was only six when he joined a school choir, and was 11 when awarded a scholarship by the Guildhall School of Music; Dudley played a number of instruments during his time at the school, including the violin, organ and harpsichord – he was only 14 when he began playing the organ at church weddings.

Dudley studied at Dagenham County High School, from which he matriculated in 1953; he continued his education at Magdalen College, Oxford on an organ scholarship, and it was during his time there that he became interested in acting, as well as in jazz music.

Dudley graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1957, and then ventured into acting and comedy; one of his first notable performances was starring in the comedy act “Beyond the Fringe”, which was performed in the UK and the USA from 1960 through 1964, and was even attended by the late US President Kennedy on 10 February 1963.

Roles in movies

Dudley’s debut film role was playing Piano Accompanist in the 1961 thriller “The Third Alibi”, while some of his following roles were in the 1964 short animated comedy “The Hat” (lead voice role), the 1965 short animated drama “Flatland” (voice role) and the 1966 crime comedy “The Wrong Box”.

He gained recognition in 1967, when cast to star as Stanley Moon in the romantic fantasy comedy “Bedazzled”, directed by Stanley Donen, and which also starred Peter Cook and Eleanor Bron. It follows a man who’s sold his soul to the devil for seven wishes, but still can’t win the love of his crush.

The first half of the ‘70s saw Dudley appear in several movies, including the 1971 comedy “Behind the Fridge”, the 1972 family fantasy “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the 1974 mystery comedy “’Rameau’s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen”. The year 1979 saw him play the lead character George Webber in the hit romantic comedy “10”, written and directed by Blake Edwards, and which also starred Bo Derek and Julie Andrews. It follows a Hollywood composer who’s fallen for a recently married woman, and the film was nominated for 12 awards, including an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score.

Some of Dudley’s most notable performances in the ‘80s were perhaps in the 1984 romantic musical comedy “Unfaithfully Yours”, the 1985 adventure family fantasy “Santa Claus: The Movie”, and the 1988 romantic comedy “Arthur 2: On the Rocks”.

In 1992, he starred as Melvyn Orton in the comedy “Blame It on the Bellboy”, written and directed by Mark Herman, and which also starred Bronson Pinchot and Bryan Brown; the film follows a bellboy whose bad English has led a group of strangers staying at his hotel to clash.

Dudley’s final three film roles were in the  comedy “The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson”, and the romantic comedy “A Weekend in the Country” both I 1996, and the 1998 animated family adventure “The Mighty Kong” (voice role).

Roles in TV series

Dudley’s debut TV series appearance was in the 1964 episode “A Trip to the Moon” of the drama “Chronicle”, and the remainder of the ‘60s saw him appear in an episode of the drama “Love Story”, the drama “Five More” and the family drama “Film Review”. From 1965 through 1970, he portrayed various characters in the comedy “Not Only… But Also”, starring alongside Peter Cook and Chris Karan; the series follows Pete and Dud as they’re discussing various matters, and it won two awards.

Dudley had only a single TV series role in the ‘70s, playing Sheik Achmed in the 1975 episode “Those Wedding Bell Blues” of the adventure comedy “When Things Were Rotten”, and didn’t appear in any series in the ‘80s.

His following role came in 1992, when cast to play Special Guest in an episode of the musical comedy “Noel’s House Party”, while the following year saw him star as Dudley Bristol in the comedy “Dudley”, which follows the life of a divorced cabaret pianist; the series was nominated for two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Graphic Design and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Lightning Direction.

His final three TV series roles were in three episodes of the 1994 comedy “Daddy’s Girls”, all the 39 episodes of the 1996 animated adventure comedy “Oscar’s Orchestra” (lead voice role) and 13 episodes of the historical documentary “Really Wild Animals” from 1993 through 1998.

Other credits

Dudley had 14 writing credits, which included the 1971 comedy movie “Behind the Fridge”, the 1978 crime horror comedy film “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and the 1979 comedy film “Derek and Clive Get the Horn”.

He received special thanks for the 1984 family movie “Tale of a Tiger” and the 1990 episode “Los Angeles” of the documentary series “Clive James’ Postcard from…”

Some of Dudley’s final talk-show appearances were in “Very Important Pennis”, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and “E! True Hollywood Story”.

Awards and nominations

Dudley won six of his 17 award nominations. Some of his wins included a 1975 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording for “Good Evening”, a 1982 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, for his performance in “Arthur”, and a 1985 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, for “Micki + Maude”.

Dudley received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 23 September 1987.

He was also nominated for a 1982 Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for “Arthur”.

Love life and relationships

Dudley was married four times. His first wife was British retired actress Suzy Kendal (born Freda Harriet Harrison); the two married on 15 June 1968 and divorced on 15 September 1972.

Dudley’s second wife was American actress Tuesday Weld; they exchanged vows on 20 September 1975, and Tuesday gave birth to their son Patrick on 26 February 1976. Their divorce was finalized on 18 July 1980.

He and his third wife Brogan Lane married on 21 February 1988 and divorced in 1991.

Dudley’s fourth wife was Nicole Rothschild; they married on 16 April 1994, and she gave birth to their son Nicholas on 28 June 1995; Dudley and Nicole divorced in 1998.

He also dated American actress Susan Ellen Anton in the first half of the ‘80s, and it’s interesting to note that she was 21cm taller than him; Dudley’s height was 5ft 2ins (1.59m) and Susan’s 5ft 11ins (1.8m).

Dudley was single at the time of his passing.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Dudley was arrested in 1994 after his wife-to-be Nicole accused him of assaulting her.

American musician and author Rena Fruchter was holding Dudley’s hand at the time of his passing, and later revealed that his final words were ‘I can hear the music all around me’; she wrote a memoir about their friendship “Dudley Moore”, published in 2004.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of The British Empire in November 2001, and attended the ceremony in a wheelchair.

Dudley and American actor and producer Gerard Anthony ‘Tony’ Bill were owners of a restaurant in Venice, California which opened in 1983 and closed in November 2000.

Dudley’s favorite actor was Gene Kelly, who passed away six years before him; some of Dudley’s favorite movies were “On the Town”, “Inherit the Wind” and “An American in Paris”.

Death and wealth

Dudley spent five days in hospital in April 1997, and was then informed by doctors that he had irreversible frontal lobe damage and calcium deposits in his brain’s basal ganglia; he suffered four strokes and underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery.

He revealed on 30 September 1999 that he was suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which is a terminal degenerative brain disorder; he died from pneumonia caused by PSP on 27 March 2002, aged 66.

Dudley’s net worth at the time of his death was estimated at over $25 million.

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