Ron Moody, Who Played Fagin in Oliver!, Dies at 91

News   Ron Moody, Who Played Fagin in Oliver!, Dies at 91
 
Ron Moody, the British actor who memorably played the lovable London crime lord Fagin in both the stage and movie versions of the musical Oliver!, died June 11. He was 91.

Mr. Moody created the part of Fagin in Lionel Bart’s musical, which had its debut on the London stage in 1960. Bart’s depiction of the kiddie pickpocket ringleader was considerably softened from Charles Dickens’ original, primarily because the character was allowed to sing bouncy, amusing songs with titles like "You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two," "I’ll Do Anything," and "Reviewing the Situation," in which Fagin considers what he life might be like if he had taken another path.

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The actor repeated the performance in the 1968 Carol Reed film, winning a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA nomination and an Academy Award nomination. He returned to the part again in 1984, when Broadway staged a revival. For that turn, he was nominated for a Tony Award. "Fate destined me to play Fagin," said Mr. Moody. "It was the part of a lifetime."

He was born Jan. 8, 1924, in London, the son of plasterer. He didn’t turn to acting until his later 20s. A role in the London staging of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide led to him being cast in Oliver!. Tall, gangly and unhandsome, he was physically well-suited to the role.

Some good roles followed his success in Oliver!. He returned to Dickens, playing the villainous toady Uriah Heap in a TV version of David Copperfield in 1969. And he appeared in the 1970 Mel Brooks film "The Twelve Chairs." But he didn’t become a star.

"My career didn't develop," he said. "I was offered Fagin-type roles but I wanted to do new things. I could have worked in America, but there was a recession in the British film industry and I wanted to work in England."

Yet, Mr. Moody continued to work in film and television well into the ‘00s.

He is survived by his wife, Therese Blackbourn, whom he married in 1985, and six children.

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