Dudley Moore, who found film stardom as the comic personification of the male midlife crisis in movies like ”10” and ”Arthur,” died Wednesday morning at his home in New Jersey. The 66-year-old died of pneumonia, a complication of the rare degenerative neurological disorder from which he had suffered for many years.
The British-born Moore first found fame on stage in the 1960s and ’70s with partner Peter Cook in the sketch comedy group Beyond the Fringe, whose deadpan absurdity made them a precursor to Monty Python. He became a Hollywood star in the late ’70s as an unlikely leading man, an urbane 40-something guy chasing desperately after Bo Derek and other younger women in films like ”Foul Play,” ”10,” ”Micki & Maude,” and ”Unfaithfully Yours.”
Moore was best known for his Oscar-nominated role as lovable alcoholic millionaire Arthur Bach in 1981’s ”Arthur” and its sequel. He was so closely associated with the part that, in recent years, when friends saw him staggering around, they assumed he was drunk.
But it turned out that he was afflicted with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a rare and incurable relative of Parkinson’s Disease, which gradually robbed Moore of his balance, his motor skills, his ability to play music (he was an accomplished classical and jazz pianist), and ultimately his ability to walk and talk. When Prince Charles bestowed a Commander of the British Empire honor on Moore last November at Buckingham Palace, he accepted mutely from his wheelchair. It was his last public appearance.