Ron Moody

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Ron Moody
Ron Moody.jpg
Moody in 1975
Born Ronald Moodnick
(1924-01-08)8 January 1924
Tottenham, Middlesex, England, UK
Died 11 June 2015(2015-06-11) (aged 91)
London, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Ethnicity Jewish
Occupation Actor, composer, singer, writer
Years active 1953–2015
Spouse(s) Therese Blackbourn (m. 1985–2015)
Children 6

Ron Moody (born Ronald Moodnick; 8 January 1924 – 11 June 2015) was a British actor, best known for his Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated performance as Fagin in Oliver! He holds the distinction of having portrayed Merlin the wizard in two Disney films, Unidentified Flying Oddball and A Kid in King Arthur's Court.

Early life[edit]

Moody was born in Tottenham, north London,[1][2] England, the son of Kate (née Ogus; 1898-1980) and Bernard/Barnett Moodnick (1896-1964), a studio executive.[3] His father was a Russian Jew and his mother was a Lithuanian Jew; said Moody, "I'm 100% Jewish—totally kosher!"[4][5] He was a cousin of director Laurence Moody and actress Clare Lawrence. His surname was legally changed to Moody in 1930.[3]


Moody was educated at Southgate County School, which at the time was a state grammar school, and based in Palmers Green, Middlesex, followed by the London School of Economics in Central London, where he trained to become an economist.[6] During World War II he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and became a radar technician.[6]

Life and career[edit]

Despite training to be an economist, Moody began appearing in theatrical shows and later decided to become a professional actor.[6]

"My proudest moment was the number "Reviewing the Situation". I suspect that, because I gave my all to the role, and because I was working with such a fine team of people, it inhibited my future career. I turned down quite a few offers afterwards because I thought the people didn't come close to those I'd worked with on Oliver!—which in retrospect was a mistake."

—Moody on his acclaimed role as Fagin and subsequent career.[6]

Moody worked in a variety of genres, but is perhaps best known for his starring role as Fagin in Lionel Bart's stage and film musical Oliver! based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. He created the role in the original West End production in 1960, and reprised it in the 1984 Broadway revival, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. For his performance in the 1968 film Oliver!, he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (Musical/Comedy), the Best Actor award at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination in the same category.[7] Reflecting on the role, Moody states: "Fate destined me to play Fagin. It was the part of a lifetime. That summer of 1967 [during filming] was one of the happiest times of my life".[6] He reprised his role as Fagin at the 1985 Royal Variety Performance in Theatre Royal, Drury Lane before Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.[8]

Moody appeared in several children's television series, including the voice of Badger and Toad in the TV Adaptation of Colin Dann's The Animals of Farthing Wood, Noah's Island, Telebugs, Into the Labyrinth, and the Discworld series.[citation needed] Among his better known roles was that of Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy in the comedy The Mouse on the Moon (1963), alongside Margaret Rutherford, with whom he appeared again the following year in Murder Most Foul (1964), one of Rutherford's Miss Marple films. He played French entertainer and mime artist The Great Orlando in the 1963 Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday. He acted again with former Oliver! co-star Jack Wild in Flight of the Doves (1971).

In 1969, Moody was offered, but declined, the lead role in Doctor Who, following the departure of Patrick Troughton from the part.[9] He later told many people (including Doctor Who companion Elisabeth Sladen) that declining the role was a decision he subsequently regretted.[6] He played Ippolit Vorobyaninov alongside Frank Langella (as Ostap Bender) in Mel Brooks' version of The Twelve Chairs (1970). In 2003, he starred in the black comedy Paradise Grove alongside Rula Lenska, and played Edwin Caldecott, an old nemesis of Jim Branning on the BBC soap EastEnders.[6] In 2005, he acted in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio play Other Lives, playing the Duke of Wellington.

In 2004, the British ITV1 nostalgia series After They Were Famous hosted a documentary of the surviving cast of the film Oliver! Several of the film's musical numbers were reenacted. Moody, then 80 but still spry, and Jack Wild (seriously ill with oral cancer at the time) recreated their dance from the closing credits of the film.

Moody appeared in an episode of BBC1's Casualty (aired on 30 January 2010) as a Scottish patient who had served with the Black Watch during the Second World War.[6] On 30 June 2010, Moody appeared on stage at the end of a performance of Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Oliver! and made a humorous speech about the show's 50th anniversary. He then reprised the "Pick a Pocket or Two" number with the cast.[6]


Moody married a Pilates teacher, Therese Blackbourn, in 1985. The couple had six children.[10]


Ron Moody died in a London hospital on 11 June 2015, aged 91. His death leaves Shani Wallis, who played Nancy, the last surviving principal role adult from the motion picture Oliver![11][12]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "My London". The Londoner. Mayor of London. August 2005. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007. Are you a London boy originally? Yes. I was born in Tottenham. Then we moved to Hornsey, which was not that far away, but was a few steps up the social ladder. 
  2. ^ In his most recent autobiography Moody cites attendance at two schools based in Harringay. Hornsey and Tottenham were both used as alternative terms to refer to Harringay, Moody R, A Still Untitled, (Not Quite) Autobiography, JR Books, 2011
  3. ^ a b "Ron Moody Biography (1924–)". 8 January 1924. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Membery, York (18 February 2011). "Ron Moody: 'I very nearly became an accountant'". Daily Mail (London). 
  5. ^ "Los Angeles Atimes report on Moody (cache)". 29 April 1973. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Oliver! actor Ron Moody dies aged 91". BBC News. 11 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Ron Moody, Fagin in Oliver, dies aged 91. Gloucestershire Echo. Retrieved 11 June 2015
  9. ^ Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 370. ISBN 1-84854-195-3. 
  10. ^ Barker, Dennis (11 June 2015). "Ron Moody obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Actor Ron Moody dies at 91; earned Oscar nomination for role as Fagin in 'Oliver!'". Los Angeles Times. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  12. ^ Singh, Anita (11 June 2015). "Ron Moody, Fagin actor, dies at 91". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 11 June 2015. 

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