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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 20:50 GMT
Moore's talent for screen comedy
Dudley Moore
Moore: Dagenham boy turned film star
Dudley Moore, who has died aged 66, was famous on both sides of the Atlantic for his talents as an actor and comedian.

Although his musical skills were recognised during his childhood, it was not until he was studying music at Oxford University that his talent as a comic and actor began to emerge.

After forging a friendship with Peter Cook, they teamed up with fellow students Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett to present the ground-breaking show Beyond the Fringe.

peter Cooke and Dudley Moore
Famous duo: Pete and Dud
It was to change the face of British comedy.

The revue was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival, and on London's West End in 1959 and then on Broadway. It became a popular BBC TV series in 1964.

Cook and Moore became Pete and Dud and created a cult following with the TV show Not Only But Also in 1965.

Pete and Dud played Derek and Clive, two scruffy individuals whose rambling diatribes were an instant hit and changed the face of British comedy.

They appeared in two moderately successful films in the 1960s - The Wrong Box and Bedazzled.

dudley moore kisses Bo Derek in the film Ten
"Sex thimble" with Bo Derek in 10
But it was not until the early 1970s when Moore moved to the US that he became a film star in his own right.

Cook felt betrayed, abandoned and not a little bit jealous of his partner's success.

Following the film 10, in which he starred with Bo Derek, Moore became an unlikely sex symbol - nicknamed "sex thimble" because of his diminutive five feet two inches stature.

Well in his 40s by now, Moore's performance in the romantic comedy 10 shot him straight to stardom in 1979.

"That was the most wonderful experience," he said.

Pete and Dud
Pete and Dud: A hit on both sides of the Atlantic
"It was my first leading role in America and the first time I could ever be myself. It was round that time that I realised that to be myself was OK."

In the film, Moore plays George Webber, a married man facing a mid-life crisis. On a holiday away from his hectic life in Los Angeles, he meets his dream woman played by Bo Derek.

Along with Derek and Julie Andrews, who played his wife, Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe and became the darling of Hollywood.

Oscar

Two years later, he had an even bigger hit with Arthur, the tale of a wealthy happy-go-lucky alcoholic, who famously said: "I race cars, play tennis and fondle women. But I have weekends off, and I am my own boss."

Arthur stands to inherit millions if he marries the girl of his family's choice. Instead he falls for Linda, a hooker, played by Liza Minnelli.

Moore, again typecast for the part, was nominated for an Oscar and John Gielgud - who played Arthur's butler, Hobson - won best supporting actor.

Pete and Dud
The pair also created the characters Derek and Clive
His next film, Six Weeks, won Moore an Oscar nomination, not for his acting but for his music - best original score.

But co-star Mary Tyler-Moore was nominated for the Razzie Award for worst actress.

But he had to make the most of his success as his later films failed to reach the same heights. They included Six Weeks, Lovesick, Romantic Comedy, Crazy People and Blame It On The Bellboy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Higham
on Dudley Moore's life
Jonathan Miller, Comedian
"He was naturally funny"


Performing star

AUDIO/VIDEO

TALKING POINT

Picture gallery
Moore's life in pictures

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