Variety reports that British actor Ron Moody has died at the age of 91. Moody, a longtime stage actor, was most famous for personifying the role of Fagin in the 1968 film Oliver!, the acclaimed musical version of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Moody was nominated for Best Actor and won a Golden Globe for the role.
Moody started out on British film and TV, including a guest-star stint on The Avengers, before being cast in Oliver!. Although better-known actors like Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, and Dick Van Dyke were considered for the leader of the band of London pickpockets, director Carol Reed fought for Moody, who had played Fagin on stage. Moody so personified the role that the first time Mark Lester, who played Oliver, saw him without his Fagin makeup, he didn’t recognize him.
After Oliver!, the actor appeared in series as disparate as Starsky And Hutch in 1976 and Eastenders in 2003, as well as in another Dickens role in the 1969 TV version of David Copperfield. He rejected the offer to play the third Doctor on Doctor Who, which he said he regretted later. He played another iconic role, Merlin, in both Unidentified Flying Oddball (1979) and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995). Moody revisited his most famous role for a 1984 Oliver! stage revival and was nominated for Tony. His widow Therese Blackbourn Moody told the BBC: “He brought joy to his family and to the hearts of many and will be greatly missed. He was singing until the end.”