Dudley Moore was an enormously popular comedian, actor and musician who rose to fame in the 1960s and had a successful career until his death in 2002. Here’s a look at 10 reasons why Dudley Moore resonated so strongly with audiences and remains beloved even years after his passing.
A gifted comedian, Dudley Moore first shot to prominence with his hilarious skits on the groundbreaking 1960s sketch show “Not Only…But Also” along with comedy partner Peter Cook. Dudley had a playful, absurdist sensibility along with a talent for physical comedy that made him an instantly beloved fixture on the show.
Some of Dudley Moore’s Most Popular Sketches
|The Frog and Peach
|Dudley plays a drunk pianist interacting with a deadpan bartender in this classic skit
|As a bumbling policeman with an exaggerated Scottish burr, Dudley showed off his skill at physical comedy
|The Glidd of Glood
|A made-up folk song showcase Dudley’s musical talent on the piano
Dudley went on to join the edgy satirical comedy show “Beyond the Fringe” and continued displaying his outstanding comedic abilities. Whether doing slapstick, parody or trading witty banter, Dudley had that rare ability to make people laugh uproariously.
While beloved for his comedy, Dudley Moore also displayed tremendous range as an actor. After moving to Hollywood in the late 1970s, he proved adept at everything from romantic leads to sad sacks.
In 10, Dudley was the perfect fit as a romantic yet desperate middle-aged man pursuing Bo Derek. And in films like the insane satire Arthur, Dudley moved audiences with his emotional performance as a lovable drunk millionaire. He could alternate between being sweet and funny, arrogant yet insecure, always getting audiences invested in his characters.
Some of Dudley Moore’s Most Memorable Film Roles
|A man who chases after a woman he’s idolized
|A drunken yet big-hearted millionaire
|Micki + Maude
|A man illegally married to two different women
|An ad man who has a mental breakdown
From inspiring crushes in 10 to earning an Oscar nomination for Arthur, Dudley was a versatile comedic actor.
While his acting and comedy made him famous, Dudley Moore first emerged as a prodigiously gifted jazz pianist starting from a young age. He attended Oxford University on a music scholarship at age 13 thanks to his skill, then performed around Europe with his jazz trio starting in the early 1960s.
Dudley would go on to incorporate his musical talents into his comedy career, whether playing the soundtrack to a skit or performing impromptu concerts in character in films like Arthur. During the 1980s, he focused again on music and produced several acclaimed jazz albums while continuing acting as well.
Dudley Moore’s Musical Highlights
- Won a scholarship to Oxford at 13 as a pianist
- Performed jazz with his popular Dudley Moore Trio in the 1960s
- Released well-regarded jazz albums like “Songs For Swinging Lovers”
- Earned Grammy nominations for his music in addition to Golden Globes and Oscars for acting
Dudley’s musical gifts clearly contributed to his multi-talented appeal and made him a more dimensional performer.
Blessed with talent, Dudley Moore also radiated warmth and personality that came through in all his performances. Though he stood only 5’2″, he had an outsized charisma and charm.
Dudley had an affable, enthusiastic demeanor along with a killer smile that ingratiated him with audiences. He projected intelligence and friendliness, coming off as someone audiences would love to share a drink with. Even when playing arrogant or lecherous characters, there was always an underlying sweetness and twinkle of mischief that made him impossible not to like.
In short, Dudley had that magical “it factor” combining charisma and talent that made him a show business star.
Battled Serious Health Issues
Dudley Moore wasn’t just a lightweight comedic actor—he maintained his career despite battling serious progressive health problems. Beginning in the late 1970s, he started experiencing headaches and vision problems that after years of testing were attributed to progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare brain disorder with no cure.
Dudley Moore’s Health Struggles
- Began suffering from headaches and blurred vision in the late 1970s
- Diagnosed with rare degenerative brain condition PSP in 1997
- Continued performing despite slurred speech, limited mobility over time
- Died in 2002 from pneumonia likely complicated by PSP
Rather than retire immediately, Dudley kept working for several more years despite PSP causing slurred speech, difficulty walking and controlling movement. He showed remarkable bravery in carrying on performing under such conditions. This perseverance undoubtedly increased Dudley’s admirers and made his story more poignant.
Dudley Moore lived an intriguing personal life off-screen as well. He became known as much for high-profile relationships and marriages as his talent. Through four marriages and other love affairs with celebrities like Susan Anton and Brogan Lane, Dudley’s love life kept him in the public eye.
Dudley Moore’s Romantic Partners
- Married 4 times, to Suzy Kendall, Tuesday Weld, Brogan Lane and Nicole Rothschild
- High-profile relationship with actress Susan Anton in the 1980s
- Reputation as a ladies man and consummate seducer off-screen
- His personal life peppered the tabloids and intrigued fans
With his high-profile romances on display in the tabloids, Moore helped satisfy curiosities about the off-screen lives of stars.
Was Open About Addiction
Another reason Dudley Moore earned admiration was he candidly discussed his longtime struggles with alcoholism and substance abuse. At the height of his career, Moore spoke openly about his alcohol addiction in particular, going to rehab several times.
Dudley Moore’s History with Addiction
- Began overdrinking while a teen at Oxford University
- Entered rehab in 1977 and relapsed multiple times through the 80s
- Continued being honest about addiction battles throughout career
- Used own experience to earnestly portray drunken characters
While many stars concealed their addictions, Dudley took accountability and showed remarkable honesty. Given alcohol fueled some of his most famous roles, fans respected him telling the sober truth rather than hiding behind his lovable drunk act.
Conquered Hollywood as an Underdog
When Dudley Moore arrived in Hollywood in the late 1970s, he hardly seemed positioned to become a major star. Shorter than most leading men, identified solely as a comedian and battling addiction issues, prevailing wisdom would have bet against his chances.
Yet Dudley soon landed starring film roles that made him an unlikely romantic lead and profitable box office draw. With hits like 10, Arthur and Micki + Maude succeeding despite lacking conventional leading man looks or dramatic pedigree, Dudley expanded restrictive Hollywood leading man barriers.
In essence, Dudley Moore became the ultimate underdog who conquered Hollywood against the odds through sheer talent and hustle. That victory made his success story all the sweeter for admirers.
Work Has Aged Well
Unlike some comedians and actors whose work feels dated, Dudley Moore’s performances remain fresh, funny and poignant even decades later. modern audiences continue discovering Dudley’s work on streaming platforms and finding that his talents feel ahead of their time.
In particular, films like Arthur and 10 continue earning new young fans taken with Moore’s charm and emotional range. And satirical late 1960s skits like those from Beyond the Fringe and Not Only…But Also don’t feel the least bit stale—if anything, their irreverent wit translates even better to modern comedy tastes.
Examples of Dudley Moore’s Evergreen Appeal
- 10 and Arthur remain popular romantic comedies on streaming
- Sketches from Beyond the Fringe and Not Only…But Also acclaimed as groundbreaking satire
- Jazz piano playing praised by fans of all ages
- Performances praised by modern stars like Russell Brand and Eddie Izzard
Thanks to his versatile talents aging so gracefully, Dudley Moore keeps charming brand new generations of comedy and movie buffs.
Fight Against PSP Lives On
Though Dudley Moore sadly died in 2002 from pneumonia likely tied to his battles with PSP, his fight against the condition lives on in ongoing research. In PARTICULAR, The Dudley Moore Research Fund established in his honor has raised over $1 million towards PSP studies at Michigan State University.