Born on April 19, 1935 in Dagenham, England, trained musician Dudley Moore became a renowned transatlantic comedian in the revue Beyond the Fringe before embarking on a film career in U.K. projects like The Wrong Box and Bedazzled. He later became a box office star in America with the comedies 10 and Arthur, for which he received a Golden Globe and an Oscar nod. He died on March 27, 2002.
Background and Education
Dudley Moore was born on April 19, 1935 in Dagenham, part of Essex, England and a suburb of East London. He grew up with a club foot, enduring operations and hospital stays early on during his youth. He eventually sang in a choir and studied piano, developing great skill and earning a scholarship at 11 years old to attend the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he also took up the organ, harpsichord and violin along with compositional theory.
Enduring bullying during his adolescence and using comedy as a defense mechanism, he went on to attend Oxford University, where he played piano in jazz formats.
'Beyond the Fringe'
After performing and writing music for a variety of venues in the late 1950s, Moore formed what would become a renowned revue—Beyond the Fringe—with fellow comedians Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook. Fringe was a hit in the U.K. and eventually made its way to Broadway in New York. Moore and Cook subsequently enjoyed a long-term collaboration on different projects that included a BBC series and several British films like The Wrong Box (1966), in which Moore made his big-screen debut.
Hit Movies: '10' and 'Arthur'
Years later the actor/comedian became known to American audiences in the Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase flick Foul Play (1978), where Moore played a swinger and music conductor. He soon worked with Blake Edwards in the 1979 comedy 10, portraying a songwriter in emotional crisis who becomes unduly taken with a beautiful woman (Bo Derek).
10 was a hit. Further movie stardom came for Moore with the lead role in Arthur, playing an often intoxicated millionaire who falls for a woman without wealth (Liza Minnelli). Arthur became a huge box office draw as well, taking in more than $95 million domestically, with Moore winning a Golden Globe and receiving a best actor Academy Award nomination. (John Gielgud won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as the butler Hobson, while “Arthur’s Theme” won the original song prize.)
Moore’s film career waned however with subsequent releases, though he did win another Golden Globe for his role in the Edwards film Micki & Maude (1984). Yet he continued his piano-playing while doing screen work, which included two short-lived TV sitcoms. His musical prowess was particularly highlighted in the 1991 Showtime series Orchestra!
With a sometimes tumultuous personal life, Moore was married four times over the years and had two sons.
Moore was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy in 1997, a severe, increasingly debilitating neurological disorder. He died from pneumonia on March 27, 2002 in Plainfield, New Jersey. A memoir of his life—Dudley Moore: An Intimate Portrait (2004)—was written by friend and musician Rena Fruchter.
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