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Dud’s joyous finale

Features | November issue

In his last years, an ailing Dudley Moore fled Hollywood, and a stormy marriage, for suburban New Jersey. William Cook meets the classical musicians who took him in and revived his love of the piano

It is fifteen years since Dudley Moore died, aged just 66, but the mere mention of his name is still guaranteed to raise a smile. Sure, Peter Cook cracked the best jokes in Not Only… But Also, but it was Dudley’s clowning that made Pete & Dud so irresistible. Without Dudley’s warmth and bonhomie, Britain’s greatest double act would have been too clever by half. Everyone loved Cuddly Dudley, the Dagenham ‘sex thimble’, which is why the story of his final years seems so cruel. His fourth marriage had broken down, the film offers had dried up, and he contracted a horrid degenerative disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PNP), which eventually killed him. The great consolation of his last decade was his close friendship with Rena Fruchter and Brian Dallow, a kind American couple who helped revive his musical career and nursed him through his final illness. Rena and Brian are...

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