It was Miller who had recommended Cook for “Beyond the Fringe”, in much the same way that Bennett had bird-dogged Moore. Cook, who had studied modern languages at Cambridge, had been part of the famous Cambridge theatrical, the Footlights revue in 1959, had subsequently gone to London to star in a West End revue for Kenneth Williams, “Pieces of Eight”. This old-fashioned review was such a successful there was a sequel, “One Over The Eight”. He was advised by his agent not to star in the fringe with the three others as he was a professional whereas they were amateurs. Ironically, the great success of “Beyond the Fringe”, which was a refreshing kind of satirical comedy, would doom the very old-fashioned reviews that Cook had just tasted success in. “Beyond the Fringe” not only won great acclaim in the UK, but it was a hit in the U.S.. The four won a special Tony Award in 1963 for their Broadway production of “Beyond The Fringe” and there was a television method made of the revue in 1964.
Moore and Cook were offered the TV show “Not Only… But Also” (1965) by the BBC in 1965. Peter Cook was on as a guest. Their pairing was so successful, it enjoyed a second season in 1966 and a third in 1970. They were particularly funny as the working-class characters “Pete” and “Dud”. The duo then broke into the movies, including The Wrong Box (1966) and Bedazzled (1967). In 1974, the duo won their second Tony Award for their show “Good Night”, which was the stage version of their TV series “Not Only… But Also”.
In the mid- to late 1970s, they issued three comic albums in the guise of the characters “Derek” and “Clive” (Moore and Cook, respectively), two lavatory attendants that several viewed as reincarnations of their earlier TV characters “Pete” and “Dud”. The albums, ad libbed in a recording studio while the two drank vast quantities of alcohol, were noted at the time for their obscenity. Their typical routine was a stream-of-consciousness fugue by Cook, interspersed with interjections by Moore. With their obscenity-laden, free of charge-formed riffs, Derke and Clive presaged the much more free-wheeling shock comedy of the 1980s and ’90s.
They subsequently split up as Moore could no longer tolerate Cook’s alcoholism. Under the influence, Cook would become abusive towards Moore, whose acting career was undergoing a renaissance in the late ’70s while his career has stalled. Ironically, it was playing an alcoholic that brought Moore to the summit of his success as an actor.
After marrying American actress Tuesworking day Weld in 1975, Moore moved to the U.S. and began a second career as a solo screen comedian, stealing the show from Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn as the horny conductor in the movie comedy Foul Play (1978). When George Segal dropped out of the movie 10 (1979), director Blake Edwards cast Moore in the lead role as the composer undergoing a mid-life crisis. It was a massive hit, but was surpassed by his Oscar-nominated turn as the dipsomaniac billionaire in Arthur (1981). In the early 1980s, Moore was a top box office attraction. In 1983, the National Alliance of Theater Owners named him the Top Box Office Star-Male of the Year.
His career began petering out after he turned down the lead in Splash (1984), a role that aided establish Tom Hanks as a top movie comedian and position him for his transition into movie drama and super-stardom. As Hanks star waxed, Moore’s star waned, and by 1985 he was reduced to playing an elf in Santa Claus (1985), one of the all time turkeys. Even a second turn as “Arthur” in Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988) couldn’t revive his box office, the dependent clause of the title all too well describing his career. His TV series “Dudley” (1993) [TV-Series] was a bust, and the 1990s proved a wasteland for the once-honored and prosperous comedian.
Moore was deeply affected by the January 1995 death of Peter Cook by a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at the age of 57. Moore organized a two-day memorial to Cook in Los Angeles that was held in November 1995. Less than four years later, in September 1999, Moore announced that he was afflicted with progressive supra-nuclear palsy, a disease for which there is no treatment.
Dudley Moore was invested as a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (one step below knighthood) in June 2001. Moore personally attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace to accept his CBE from Prince Charles, despite being unable to speak and being wheelchair-bound. He died in Watchung, New Jersey on March 27, 2002, from the pneumonia related to progressive supra-nuclear palsy. He was 66 years old.
Dudley Moore was married four times, to actresses Suzy Kendall, Tuesday Weld, Brogan Lane and ‘Nicole Rothschild’, and had two sons, one with Tuesday Weld and one with Nicole Rothschild.
|Date of Birth||19 April 1935|
|Place of Birth||Dagenham, Essex, England, UK|
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