DUDLEY MOORE by Barbara Paskin


The Authorized Biography
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 An overlong but insightful account of an extraordinarily gifted entertainer who has never quite found his proper niche. Actor, comedian, musician, composer--at age 62, Moore is one of the most protean talents in showbiz today. Yet despite the occasional signal successes, such as the films 10 and Arthur, he has seemingly never tapped his full potential, at least in his own eyes: ``You could say I'm a Jack of all trades, master of none. I guess the incentive isn't there and I feel it's too late to do anything.'' From childhood, he was openly ambitious for fame and for the approval and adoration that usually go with it. As his longtime comic partner and occasional friend Peter Cook once acidly joked: ``If I'd been a club-footed dwarf from Dagenham, then I'd be that ambitious too.'' Moore's club foot (and his short stature) loom large as Rosebud for Paskin, explaining everything from the actor's comedy to his ceaseless womanizing. Through his considerable musical talents, Moore was able to surmount both his handicap and his working-class background, winning a scholarship to Oxford, where he studied classical music but lived for jazz. On graduation he was cast in the groundbreaking comedy revue Beyond the Fringe. From there it was on to Hollywood, some successes, some flops, four wives, and relative fame and fortune. Paskin, the BBC's Hollywood correspondent, has had extraordinary access to all aspects of Moore's life, including his diaries and even his psychiatrists. This allows her to create a fully realized portrait but does make her account seem, at times, too official and adoring. She also tends to tell rather than show, for example, prating on at length about how funny Moore is, but she includes less than a dozen examples of his humor. Like Moore's career, this biography promises much but never quite delivers. (65 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-283-06264-9
Page count: 470pp
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997