Dudley Moore

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Dudley Moore
Dudley Moore.jpg
Moore at the 43rd Emmy Awards, 25 August 1991
Born Dudley Stuart John Moore
(1935-04-19)19 April 1935
Hammersmith, London, England, UK
Died 27 March 2002(2002-03-27) (aged 66)
Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Cause of death
Progressive supranuclear palsy
Occupation Actor, comedian, musician
Years active 1961–2002
Spouse(s) Suzy Kendall (1968–72)
Tuesday Weld (1975–80)
Brogan Lane (1988–91)
Nicole Rothschild (1994–98)

Dudley Stuart John Moore, CBE (19 April 1935 – 27 March 2002) was an English actor, comedian, musician and composer.

Moore first came to prominence in the UK as one of the four writer-performers in the comedy revue Beyond the Fringe from 1960, and with one member of that team, Peter Cook, collaborated on the television series Not Only... But Also. The double act worked on other projects until the mid-1970s, by which time Moore had settled in Los Angeles to concentrate on his movie acting.

His solo career as a comedy film actor was heightened by the success of hit Hollywood films, particularly Foul Play, 10 and Arthur. He received an Oscar nomination for the latter role. He was frequently referred to in the media as "Cuddly Dudley" or "The Sex Thimble", a reference to both his short stature and his reputation as a "ladies' man".

Early life[edit]

Moore was born in the original Charing Cross Hospital, in central London, the son of Ada Francis (née Hughes), a secretary, and John Moore, a railway electrician. He was brought up in Dagenham, East London. He was notably short: 5 ft 2.5 in (1.588 m) and was born with club feet that required extensive hospital treatment and, coupled with his diminutive stature, made him the butt of jokes from other children. His right foot responded well to corrective treatment and had straightened itself by the time he was six, but his left foot became permanently twisted and consequently his left leg below the knee was withered. This was something he remained very self-conscious of throughout his life.

He became a choirboy at the age of six and took up the piano and violin. He rapidly developed into a highly talented pianist and organist and was playing the pipe organ at local church weddings by the age of 14. He attended Dagenham County High School where he received musical tuition from a dedicated teacher, Peter Cork. Cork became a friend and confidant to Moore, continuing to correspond with him until 1994.

Moore's musical talent won him an organ scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. While studying music and composition there, he also performed with Alan Bennett in the Oxford Revue. Bennett then recommended him to a producer who was putting together Beyond the Fringe, a comedy revue, where he first met his comedic partner Peter Cook. Beyond the Fringe was at the forefront of the 1960s UK satire boom and after becoming a huge success in Britain it transferred to the United States, where it was also a big hit.

During his university years, Moore had developed a love of jazz music and soon became an accomplished jazz pianist and composer. He began working with such leading musicians as John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. In 1960, he left Dankworth's band to work on Beyond the Fringe. During the 1960s he formed the Dudley Moore Trio, with drummer Chris Karan and bassist Pete McGurk. Following McGurk's suicide in June 1968, Peter Morgan joined the group as his replacement.[1]

Moore's admitted principal musical influences were Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner. In an interview he recalled the day he finally mastered Garner's unique left-hand strum and was so excited that he walked around for several days with his left hand constantly playing that cadence. His early recordings included "My Blue Heaven", "Lysie Does It", "Poova Nova", "Take Your Time", "Indiana", "Sooz Blooz", "Baubles, Bangles & Beads", "Sad One for George" and "Autumn Leaves". The trio performed regularly on British television, made numerous recordings and had a long-running residency at Peter Cook's London nightclub, the Establishment.

In the 1960s Moore was a close friend of record producer Chris Gunning and played piano (uncredited) on the 1969 single "Broken Hearted Pirates" which Gunning produced for Simon Dupree and the Big Sound.[2]

Moore composed the soundtracks for the films Bedazzled, Inadmissible Evidence, Staircase and Six Weeks, among others.

Career[edit]

Partnership with Peter Cook[edit]

Moore (right) with Peter Cook in 1974

After following the Establishment to New York City, Moore returned to the UK and was offered his own series on the BBC, Not Only... But Also (1965). It was commissioned specifically as a vehicle for Moore, but when he invited Peter Cook on as a guest, their comedy partnership was so notable that it became a permanent fixture of the series. Cook and Moore are most remembered for their sketches as two working class men, Pete and Dud, in macs and cloth caps, commenting on politics and the arts, but they fashioned a series of one-off characters, usually with Moore in the role of interviewer to one of Cook's upper class eccentrics. The pair developed an unorthodox method for scripting the material by using a tape recorder to tape an ad libbed routine that they would then have transcribed and edited. This would not leave enough time to fully rehearse the script so they often had a set of cue cards. Moore was famous for "corpsing"—the programmes often went on live, and Cook would deliberately make him laugh in order to get an even bigger reaction from the studio audience. Regrettably, the BBC junked much of the series (see Wiping), though some of the soundtracks (which were issued on record) have survived. Moore and Cook co-starred in the film Bedazzled (1967) with Eleanor Bron, and also had tours called Beyond the Fringe and Good Evening.

In 2009 it came to light that at the time three separate British police forces had wanted them to be prosecuted under obscenity laws for their comedy recordings made during the late 1970s under the pseudonyms Derek and Clive. Shortly following the last of these, Derek and Clive – Ad Nauseam, Moore made a break with Cook, whose alcoholism was affecting his work, to concentrate on his film career. When Moore began to manifest the symptoms of the disease that eventually killed him (progressive supranuclear palsy), it was at first suspected that he too had a drinking problem. Two of Moore's early starring roles were the eponymous drunken playboy Arthur and the heavy drinker George Webber in 10.

Later career[edit]

In the late 1970s, Moore moved to Hollywood, where he had a supporting role in the hit film Foul Play (1978) with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. The following year saw his break-out role in Blake Edwards's 10, which he followed up with the film Wholly Moses! The latter was not a major success.

Moore played Watson to Cook's Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978). Moore was a comic foil to Sir Henry and played three other roles: one in drag and one as a one-legged man. Moore also played the piano for the entire score and appears at the start and end of the film as a flamboyant and mischievous pianist. Moore also scored the film.

In 1981, Moore appeared as the lead in the comedy Arthur, an even bigger hit than 10, which also starred Liza Minnelli and Sir John Gielgud. It was both commercially and critically successful; Moore received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor whilst Gielgud won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Arthur's stern but compassionate manservant. Moore lost to Henry Fonda (for On Golden Pond). He did, however, win a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy. In 1984, Moore had another hit, starring in the Blake Edwards directed Micki + Maude, co-starring Amy Irving. This won him another Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy.

His subsequent films, including Arthur 2: On the Rocks, a sequel to the original, and an animated adaptation of King Kong, were inconsistent in terms of both critical and commercial reception; Moore eventually disowned the former. In later years, Cook would wind up Moore by claiming he preferred Arthur 2: On the Rocks to Arthur.

In addition to acting, Moore continued to work as a composer and pianist, writing scores for a number of films and giving piano concerts, which were highlighted by his popular parodies of classical favourites. In 1976 he played piano on Larry Norman's album In Another Land, in particular on the song "The Sun Began to Rain." In addition, Moore collaborated with the conductor Sir Georg Solti to create the television series, Orchestra! (1991), which was designed to introduce audiences to the symphony orchestra. He later worked with the American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas on a similar television series, Concerto! (1993), likewise designed to introduce audiences to classical music concertos. He also appeared as Ko-Ko in a Jonathan Miller production of The Mikado in Los Angeles in March 1988.

In 1987, Moore was interviewed for The New York Times by the music critic Rena Fruchter, herself an accomplished pianist. They became close friends. By 1995, Moore's film career was on the wane. He was having trouble remembering his lines, a problem he had never previously encountered (for this reason he was sacked from Barbra Streisand's film The Mirror Has Two Faces).[3] He opted to concentrate on the piano, and enlisted Fruchter as an artistic partner. They performed as a duo in the U.S. and Australia. However, his disease soon started to make itself apparent there as well, as his fingers would not always do what he wanted them to do. Symptoms such as slurred speech and loss of balance were misinterpreted by the public and the media as a sign of drunkenness. Moore himself was at a loss to explain this. He moved into Fruchter's family home in New Jersey and stayed there for five years, but this, however, placed a great strain both on her marriage and her friendship with Moore, and she later set him up in the house next door.

In the 1990s, Moore also starred as a man named David trying to catch some chickens in a series of Tesco adverts. He stated in a later interview that this was the highlight of his career so far, and that he was paid '£20,000 for each advert'.

Moore was deeply affected by the death of Peter Cook in 1995, and for weeks would regularly telephone Cook's home in London just to get the telephone answering machine and hear his friend's voice. Moore attended Cook's memorial service in London and at the time many people who knew him noted that Moore was behaving strangely and attributed it to grief or drinking. In November 1995, Moore teamed up with friend and humorist Martin Lewis in organising a two-day salute to Cook in Los Angeles that Moore co-hosted with Lewis.

Moore was the subject of the British This Is Your Life - for a second time - in March 1987 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at his Venice Beach restaurant; he had previously been honoured by the programme in December 1972. Moore is the main subject of the play Pete and Dud: Come Again, by Chris Bartlett and Nick Awde. Set in a chat-show studio in the 1980s, it focuses on Moore's comic and personal relationship with Peter Cook and how their careers took off after the split of the partnership.

Entrepreneur[edit]

Moore co-owned a fashionable restaurant in Venice, California (1980s–2000). The restaurant was named 72 Market Street Oyster Bar and Grill. Moore played the piano in the restaurant whenever he was there.

Personal life[edit]

Moore was married and divorced four times: to actresses Suzy Kendall, Tuesday Weld (by whom he had a son, Patrick, in 1976), Brogan Lane, and Nicole Rothschild (one son, Nicholas, born in 1995).[4]

He maintained good relationships with Kendall, Weld and Lane, but expressly forbade Rothschild to attend his funeral. At the time his illness became apparent, he was going through a difficult divorce from Rothschild, despite sharing a house in Los Angeles with her and her previous husband.

Moore dated Susan Anton. In 1994, Moore was arrested after Rothschild claimed he had beaten her before that year's Oscars; she later withdrew her charges.

Illness and death[edit]

In September 1997 Moore underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery in London, and subsequently suffered four minor strokes.

In June 1998, Nicole Rothschild was reported to have told an American television show that Moore was "waiting to die" due to a serious illness, but these reports were denied by Suzy Kendall.[5]

On 30 September 1999, Moore announced that he was suffering from the terminal degenerative brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy, some of whose early symptoms were so similar to intoxication that he had been accused of being drunk, and that the illness had been diagnosed earlier in the year.[6]

He died on 27 March 2002, as a result of pneumonia, secondary to immobility caused by the palsy, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Rena Fruchter was holding his hand when he died, and she reported his final words were, "I can hear the music all around me." Moore was interred in Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Fruchter later wrote a memoir of their relationship (Dudley Moore, Ebury Press, 2004).

In December 2004, the Channel 4 television station in the United Kingdom broadcast Not Only But Always, a TV film dramatising the relationship between Moore and Cook, although the principal focus of the production was on Cook. Around the same time the relationship between the two was also the subject of a stage play called Pete and Dud: Come Again.

Honours and awards[edit]

In June 2001, Moore was appointed a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE). Despite his deteriorating condition, he attended the ceremony, mute and wheelchair-bound, at Buckingham Palace to collect his honour.[3]

Filmography[edit]

Discography[edit]

UK chart singles[edit]

  • "Goodbye-ee", 1965, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
  • "The L.S. Bumble Bee", 1967, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
  • "Song for Suzy", 1972, Dudley Moore Trio (upbeat jazz)

Jazz discography[edit]

  • From Beyond The Fringe, 1966 (Atlantic RecordsStandard 2 017)
  • The Dudley Moore Trio, 1969 (Decca Records (UK) / London Records (US) PS558)
  • Dudley Moore plays The Theme from Beyond the Fringe and All That Jazz, 1962 (Atlantic 1403)
  • The World of Dudley Moore, (Decca SPA 106)
  • The Other Side Of Dudley Moore, (Decca LK 4732)
  • Genuine Dud, (Decca LK 4788)
  • The Music of Dudley Moore, (EMI Australia (Cube Records) TOOFA.14-1/2)
  • Dudley Down Under, (Cube ICS 13)
  • Dudley Moore at the Wavendon Festival, (Black Lion Records BLP 12151)
  • Smilin' ThroughCleo Laine and Dudley Moore, (Finesse Records FW 38091)
  • Strictly For The Birds b/w Duddley Dell, (Parlophone 45R 4772)
  • Strictly For The Birds – Cleo Laine and Dudley Moore, (CBS A 2947)
  • The Theme From "Beyond The Fringe" and All That Jazz, (Collectibles COL 6625)
  • Live From an Aircraft Hangar (Martine Avenue Productions MAPI 8486)
  • Songs Without Words, 1991 (GRP/BMG LC 6713)
  • The First Orchestrations – Dudley Moore and Richard Rodney Bennett, – played by John Bassett and his Band, (Harkit Records HRKCD 8054)
  • Jazz Jubilee, (Martine Avenue Productions MAPI 1521)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chilton. John., 2004, Who's Who of British Jazz, London: Continuum, p.240 ISBN 9780826472342
  2. ^ "Sounds Of The 60s". bbc.co.uk. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Tributes flood in for Moore". BBC News. 28 March 2002. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Daniel Jeffreys (17 June 1996). "The wives and times of cuddly Dudley". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Health fears for Dudley Moore". BBC News. 9 June 1998. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "Dudley Moore has rare brain disease". BBC News. 30 September 1999. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Dudley Moore (1966). Originals. Arranged as Piano Solos Transcribed from the Decca L.P. 'The Other Side of Dudley Moore'. Essex Music.
  • From Fringe to Flying Circus – 'Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960–1980' – Roger Wilmut, Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1980
  • Alexander Games (1999). Pete & Dud: An Illustrated Biography. Andre Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-99642-7. 
  • Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (2003). Dud and Pete The Dagenham Dialogues. Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-77347-0. 
  • Chris Bartlett and Nick Awde (2006). Pete and Dud: Come Again. Methuen Drama. ISBN 0-413-77602-6. 
  • Dudley Moore, Rena Fruchter, Ebury Press, 2004.
  • Fallen Stars, Julian Upton, Headpress, 2004.

External links[edit]