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A Brief Profile of Ron Moody

Early Life

The character actor Ron Moody was born on 8 January 1924 in Tottenham, London. He was the son of Jewish parents of East European extraction, Bernard Moodnick, a studio executive, and his wife, Kate. In 1930, Bernard Moodnick changed the family name to the anglicised surname of ‘Moody’.

Ron received a grammar school education at Southgate County School in Palmers Green. During World War II he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he served as a radar technician. He went on to attend the London School of Economics with the aim of becoming a sociologist. However, in 1952, after dabbling in amateur dramatics he decided to pursue a professional career in show business, starting out as a stand-up comedian.

 Early Career

In 1956, Moody made his screen debut in the television series Men, Women and Clothes. His film debut followed a year later with an uncredited part in the Ealing comedy ‘Davy’ (1957). Moody next made television appearances in Armchair Theatre, Comedy Playhouse and Thursday Theatre. One of his best-known early film roles was that of the French entertainer ‘The Great Orlando’ in the big box-office hit ‘Summer Holiday’ (1963), starring Cliff Richard. He followed that up by playing Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy in the comedy The Mouse on the Moon (1963), with Margaret Rutherford.

Moody got his big break when he was cast as Fagin in the film musical ‘Oliver!’ (1968). The big screen adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. In 1969, he was offered the lead role in the BBC popular sci-fi television series Doctor Who, following the departure of Patrick Troughton. He turned down the part but later admitted that not taking the role was one of his biggest regrets.

Photo credit: Claudia Longo/Shutterstock.com

1970 to 2012

In 1970, Moody portrayed another Dickensian character to much acclaim when he played Uriah Heep in a TV adaptation of David Copperfield. He notably went on to star in a number of unconventional films that included The Twelve Chairs (1970), Flight of the Doves (1971), Legend of the Werewolf (1975), Dogpound Shuffle (1979), The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979), The Man with the Deadly Lens (1982), and Where Is Parsifal? (1984). In 1985, he reprised his much-heralded role of Fagin on the London stage at the Royal Variety Performance. His last big-screen performance was in the crime-thriller Mousaka and Chips (2005), which also starred Mike Reid.

In all, including TV movies and shorts, Moody appeared in some 50 films. His last film appearance was in the short ‘Fits and Starts of Restlessness’ (2012). However, Moody also had an extensive TV career appearing in the likes of ‘Eastenders’ and other popular long-running TV series such as ‘The Bill’, ”Casualty’, and ‘Holby City’. Additionally, he also popped up on U.S. television, appearing in episodes of ‘Hart to Hart’, ‘Highway to Heaven’ and ‘Murder, She Wrote’, amongst others. He was also a familiar face and voice on children’s TV, most notably in ‘Into the Labyrinth’ (1981 – 82) and ‘The Animals from Farthing’s Wood’ (1993 – 95). His very last television role came in 2012, making an appearance in ‘Holby City’.

Personal Life

Outside of acting Moody was a very private man. In 1985, Moody married pilates teacher Therese Blackbourn when he was aged sixty-one. Their marriage produced six children. His youngest daughter was born when Moody was aged seventy-three.


Ron Moody died of natural causes in a London hospital on 11 June 2015, aged 91. He has cremated soon afterwards, with the ashes being passed on to his family.

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