I have a very ribald sense of humor, which is conventionally known as obscene
“Cuddly” Dudley Moore was one of the biggest showbusiness names of the Sixties, alongside comedy partner of Peter Cook.
The duo were famed for their groundbreaking, bizarre and sometime deliberately offensive comedy sketches, with characters including their taboo-breaking alter-egos, Pete and Dud and Derek and Clive. Famously, the pair would often go ‘off-piste’ barely able get through their skits without one of them – usually Dudley – desperately trying to keep it together and hold in their laughter.
Born to a working class Essex family, Dudley was a gifted pianist who won a scholarship to Oxford due to his musical gift. He performed in comedy revues and it was his musical talent that gave him his big TV break. Before long he’d paired up with Peter Cook on one of the most popular entertainment shows of the 1960s, Not Only... But Also.
The pair also made five films, including Bedazzled, in which Dudley played a nice, but anxious man who is plagued by the Devil – played by Peter– who is intent on tempting him. The film was later remade starring Brendan Fraser and Liz Hurley.
Dudley later embarked for Hollywood. The diminutive actor – he was five foot two – became a huge star, thanks to films like Arthur and 10. He became an unlikely sex symbol – newspaper headlines referred to him as The Sex Thimble.
Married and divorced four times, Dudley’s private life was often subject to as much interest as his professional career. His successes never quite outweighed the low sense of self esteem he’d had from childhood.
“I certainly did feel inferior,” he admitted. “Because of class, because of strength, because of height. If I could have hit someone on the nose, I wouldn’t have turned to comedy."
Paying tribute to Dudley, who was living with a degenerative brain disease when he died, Michael Parkinson said: “He had a little boy lost quality about him...there was always something slightly forlorn about Dudley, even when he was being funny."
Dudley’s final words were beautiful: “I can hear the music all around me.”