Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Only Funny. Also Magical; but Dagenham Boy Who Took Hollywood but Came Full Circle

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Not Only Funny. Also Magical; but Dagenham Boy Who Took Hollywood but Came Full Circle

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES LANGTON

IT WAS a modest bungalow with a small square of lawn, a place where a pensioner on a small fixed income might retire. This was where Dudley Moore, actor, comic and film star, came to die.

In a sense the boy from Dagenham, Essex, had come full circle. He chose to end his days in an unfashionable corner of New Jersey, that least fashionable of American states.

The homes in Beverly Hills, the expensive cars and the beautiful women were long gone. Instead, Moore found comfort surrounded by ordinary folk who cared for him because they liked him. The surroundings may have been ordinary, but the love he found at the end was unconditional.

He had lived in Plainfield for three years, a fading middleclass suburb just keeping its head above water. The bungalow probably cost less than the Rolls-Royce in which John Gielgud chauffeured him in the movie Arthur.

There was just enough room for his bedroom and his music collection - and the piano he could no longer play.

Above all, it was next door to concert pianist Rena Fruchter and her composer husband Brian Dallow, who cared for him until the end.

That came at 11am yesterday morning, as Moore, 66, slipped into oblivion to the sound of his own music, Songs Without Words, a jazz collection he chose to accompany his last hours.

Later, Mrs Fruchter and Mr Dallow, their eyes still red with tears, stood on their doorstep to remember their old friend. "We are all devastated by this loss" the composer said. "He was loved by everybody.'' They were both with Moore when he died, from complications from pneumonia. It was clear by Monday, Mrs Fruchter said, that the end was near.

"He kept going until he could not fight it any longer. We were holding hands when he died. He was aware of everything around him. There was no pain.

He was at peace.'' Those last years at least offered a respite from the indignities of progressive supranuclear palsy, the degenerative brain disease that reduced him outwardly to a stumbling, slurring husk of the once-brilliant satirist and musician. The bungalow was close to the Kessler Institute, the neurological centre where Moore hoped to find a cure in the early stages of the illness. …

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