Ronald Moodnick;

Description: Actor

Location: United Kingdom

Date Born: 8 January 1924
Tottenham, North London

Died: 11 June 2015
London, UK

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Ron Moody (born Ronald Moodnick; 8 January 1924 – 11 June 2015) was a British actor, known for his Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated performance as Fagin in Oliver! and as the wizard Merlin in Disney’s A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.

Moody was born in Tottenham, North London, England, the son of Kate (née Ogus) and Bernard Moodnick, a studio executive. His father was a Russian Jew and his mother was a Lithuanian Jew; said Moody, “I’m 100% Jewish—totally kosher!” He was a cousin of director Laurence Moody and actress Clare Lawrence. His surname was legally changed to Moody in 1930.


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 a economist. During World War II he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and became a radar technician.

Life and career

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

Moody worked in a variety of genres, but 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, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. For his performance in 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. 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”. He reprised his role as Fagin at the 1985 Royal Variety Performance in Theatre Royal, Drury Lane before Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.

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, Into the Labyrinth, and the Discworld series. 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 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.[6] 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.In 2005, he acted in the Big Finish Productions Doctor Who audio play Other Lives, playing the Duke of Wellington.

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.

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.


Moody married a Pilates teacher, Therese Blackbourn, in 1985. The couple had six children. Moody’s son, Daniel, was the visual effects assistant on the film The Wolfman (2010). After graduating from the University of York with a BA in ‘Film, Theatre and Television’, Daniel worked as a visual effects assistant on the film 47 Ronin (2013). Jonathan, his second youngest child, is studying Mathematical Physics at the University of Nottingham.


Ron Moody died in a London hospital on 11 June 2015, aged 91.

Partial filmography[edit]

Follow a Star (1959)
Five Golden Hours (1961)
A Pair of Briefs (1962)
Summer Holiday (1963)
The Mouse on the Moon (1963)
Ladies Who Do (1963)
Murder Most Foul (1964)
The Sandwich Man (1966)
Oliver! (1968)
David Copperfield (1969)
The Twelve Chairs (1970)
Flight of the Doves (1971)
Legend of the Werewolf (1975)
Dogpound Shuffle (1975)
The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977)
Dominique (1978)
Unidentified Flying Oddball, aka The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)
Othello (as Iago) (1981)
Wrong Is Right (1982)
Where Is Parsifal? (1983)
Asterix and the Big Fight (1989) (voice)
A Ghost in Monte Carlo (1990)
The Animals of Farthing Wood (TV series) (1993 – 1995) (voice)
A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995)
Noah’s Island (1997 – 1999) (voice)
Revelation (2001)
Paradise Grove (2003)