Ron Moody
Moody in 1975
Ronald Moodnick

(1924-01-08)8 January 1924
Died11 June 2015(2015-06-11) (aged 91)
London, England
  • Actor
  • composer
  • singer
  • writer
Years active1952–2012
Therese Blackbourn
(m. 1985)

Ron Moody (born Ronald Moodnick; 8 January 1924 – 11 June 2015) was an English actor, composer, singer and writer. He was best known for his portrayal of Fagin in Oliver! (1968) and its 1983 Broadway revival. Moody earned a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for the film, as well as a Tony Award nomination for the stage production. Other notable projects include The Mouse on the Moon (1963), Mel Brooks' The Twelve Chairs (1970) and Flight of the Doves (1971), in which Moody shared the screen with Oliver! co-star Jack Wild.

Early life and education

Moody was born on 8 January 1924 in Tottenham, Middlesex,[1][2] the son of Kate (née Ogus; 1898–1980) and Bernard/Barnett Moodnick (1896–1964), a studio executive.[3] His father was a Russian Jew and his mother was a Lithuanian Jew; said Moody, "I'm 100% Jewish—totally kosher!"[4] He was a cousin of director Laurence Moody and actress Clare Lawrence. His surname was legally changed to the more anglicised Moody in 1930.[3]

Moody was educated at Southgate County School, which at the time was a state grammar school, and based in Palmers Green, Middlesex, followed by the London School of Economics in Central London, where he trained to become an economist.[5] During World War II he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and became a radar technician.[5]


Despite training to be an economist, Moody began appearing in theatrical shows and later decided to become a professional actor.[5]

"My proudest moment was the number "Reviewing the Situation". I suspect that, because I gave my all to the role, and because I was working with such a fine team of people, it inhibited my future career. I turned down quite a few offers afterwards because I thought the people didn't come close to those I'd worked with on Oliver!—which in retrospect was a mistake."

—Moody on his acclaimed role as Fagin and subsequent career.[5]

Moody worked in a variety of genres, but he is perhaps best known for his starring role as Fagin in Lionel Bart's stage and film musical Oliver! based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. He created the role in the original West End production in 1960 and reprised it in the 1984 Broadway revival, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. For his performance in the 1968 film Oliver!, he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (Musical/Comedy), the Best Actor award at the 6th Moscow International Film Festival and an Academy Award nomination in the same category.[6] Reflecting on the role, Moody states: "Fate destined me to play Fagin. It was the part of a lifetime. That summer of 1967 [during filming] was one of the happiest times of my life".[5] He reprised his role as Fagin in the 1983 Channel 4 television programme The Other Side of London,[7] and again at the 1985 Royal Variety Performance in Theatre Royal, Drury Lane before Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.[8]

Moody appeared in several children's television series, including the voice of Badger and Toad in the TV Adaptation of Colin Dann's The Animals of Farthing Wood, Noah's Island, Telebugs, and Into the Labyrinth. Among his better known roles was that of Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy in the comedy The Mouse on the Moon (1963), alongside Margaret Rutherford, with whom he appeared again the following year in Murder Most Foul (1964), one of Rutherford's Miss Marple films. He played French entertainer and mime artist The Great Orlando in the 1963 Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday. He appeared as Hopkirk in the 1966 episode entitled "Honey For the Prince" of The Avengers. He acted again with former Oliver! co-star Jack Wild in Flight of the Doves (1971).

In 1969, Moody was offered, but declined, the lead role in Doctor Who, following the departure of Patrick Troughton from the part.[9] He later told many people (including Doctor Who companion Elisabeth Sladen) that declining the role was a decision he subsequently regretted.[5] He played Ippolit Vorobyaninov alongside Frank Langella (as Ostap Bender) in Mel Brooks' version of The Twelve Chairs (1970). In 2003, he starred in the black comedy Paradise Grove alongside Rula Lenska, and played Edwin Caldecott, an old nemesis of Jim Branning on the BBC soap EastEnders.[5] In 2005, he acted in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio play Other Lives, playing the Duke of Wellington. He made several appearances in BBC TVs long running variety show, The Good Old Days, enacting pastiche/comic Victorian melodramas.

Moody wrote a novel, The Devil You Don't, which was published by Robson Books, London, in 1980. [10]

In 2004, the British ITV1 nostalgia series After They Were Famous hosted a documentary of the surviving cast of the film Oliver! Several of the film's musical numbers were reenacted. Moody, then 80 but still spry, and Jack Wild (seriously ill with oral cancer at the time) recreated their dance from the closing credits of the film.

Moody appeared in an episode of BBC1's Casualty (aired on 30 January 2010) as a Scottish patient who had served with the Black Watch during the Second World War.[5] On 30 June 2010, Moody appeared on stage at the end of a performance of Cameron Mackintosh's revival of Oliver! and made a humorous speech about the show's 50th anniversary. He then reprised the "Pick a Pocket or Two" number with the cast.[5]

Moody was a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.

Personal life

Moody married a Pilates teacher, Therese Blackbourn, in 1985. The couple had six children.[11]


Moody died of natural causes while in a London hospital on 11 June 2015, aged 91.[12][13]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ "My London". The Londoner. Mayor of London. August 2005. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2007. Are you a London boy originally? Yes. I was born in Tottenham. Then we moved to Hornsey, which was not that far away, but was a few steps up the social ladder.
  2. ^ In his most recent autobiography, Moody cites attendance at two schools based in Harringay. Hornsey and Tottenham were both used as alternative terms to refer to Harringay, Moody R., A Still Untitled, (Not Quite) Autobiography, JR Books, 2011
  3. ^ a b "Ron Moody Biography (1924–)". 8 January 1924. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Los Angeles Atimes report on Moody (cache)". 29 April 1973. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Oliver! actor Ron Moody dies aged 91". BBC News. 11 June 2015.
  6. ^ "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  7. ^ Ron Moody - The Other Side of London
  8. ^ "Ron Moody, Fagin in Oliver, dies aged 91 Archived 12 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Gloucestershire Echo. Retrieved 11 June 2015
  9. ^ Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 370. ISBN 978-1-84854-195-5.
  10. ^ Moody, Ron. The Devil You Don't. Robson Books. ISBN 0860511014.
  11. ^ Barker, Dennis (11 June 2015). "Ron Moody obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Actor Ron Moody dies at 91; earned Oscar nomination for role as Fagin in 'Oliver!'". Los Angeles Times. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  13. ^ Singh, Anita (11 June 2015). "Ron Moody, Fagin actor, dies at 91". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  14. ^ Stanton B. Garner (1999). Trevor Griffiths: Politics, Drama, History. University of Michigan Press. p. 105.