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Oliver star Moody 'singing until the end', says widow

Actor Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the hit film version of Oliver!, passed away yesterday after a long illness.

The British character actor (91) was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1968 Charles Dickens adaptation.

"He brought joy to his family and to the hearts of many and will be greatly missed. He was singing until the end," said his widow Therese. Moody was born Ronald Moodnick in Tottenham, north London, on January 8, 1924, the son of Jewish immigrants.

He had a lengthy career in TV and film, including an appearance on EastEnders, but was said to have turned down the role of Doctor Who. He is survived by his widow and six children.

Moody was on his way to becoming a sociologist when he fell into acting.

The Londoner got his first taste of showbusiness aged 16 when he worked as a wages clerk at Elstree studios.

He had spent the war in the RAF before going on to study at the London School of Economics.


Years later, he remembered: "I went to the London School of Economics to study sociology and psychology on a serviceman's grant. While there, I got dragged into taking part in a student revue and ended up writing, and appearing in, a few sketches.

"Soon after, I was discovered in an end-of-term show by two writers who put me in their stage revue, and I've never looked back."

Moody honed his craft in a string of theatrical roles before reluctantly auditioning for the role in Lionel Bart's musical that made him a star.

"At first I never wanted to do it. They told me there was this musical of Oliver Twist so I went to see the Alec Guinness film (of Oliver Twist), which I found to be so anti-semitic as to be unbearable," he said

"But Bart is as Jewish as I am and we both felt an obligation to get Fagin away from a viciously racial stereotype and instead make him what he really is - a crazy old Father Christmas gone wrong."

Moody is survived by his widow and six children.