In Brief

Ron Moody: 5 things you didn't know about the Oliver! actor

Actor who starred as Fagin in Oliver! said biggest regret was turning down role of Doctor Who

Ron Moody, famed for his expressive features and larger-than-life acting skills, died yesterday at the age of 91. 

Born in London on 8 January 1924, the son of a Russian Jewish father and a Lithuanian Jewish mother, Moody was initially named Ronald Moodnick before his name was changed legally in 1930. He is survived by his widow and six children.

Before falling into the entertainment business at 29, he worked in a variety of jobs and studied at the London School of Economics. His first big break was in 1959 in the Leonard Bernstein musical Candide, and it was  that part which landed him the chance to play Fagin in Lionel Bart's musical Oliver! The performance earned Moody many plaudits, as he transformed the character from a monster to a clown. Moody said of the role: "I 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 went on to star in the 1968 film adaptation of the musical and earned an Oscar nomination in the process. After Oliver! his career never hit the same heights, but he found work in a number of British dramas including an extended stint alongside June Brown in Eastenders. Here are five lesser-known facts about the star:

Moody was a radar technician in the RAF

In the early days of the Second World War, an 18-year-old Moody enlisted into the RAF. Rather than flying planes, Moody found himself working as a radar technician. It was a new technology at the time and those involved in its operation needed good mathematical skills.

Moody's dream was to become a professor of sociology

Following his time in the RAF, Moody went on to study sociology at the London School of Economics. In 2006 he told The Independent: "I wanted to be a professor of sociology at LSE. I was at LSE for five years – probably the happiest years I ever spent. I didn't want to leave but I was already doing shows."

Moody had his last child aged 73

Moody married Therese Blackbourn, a Pilates teacher, in 1985 and they had six children, the last of which, a daughter, he fathered at the age of 73. Moody said of the relationship "I had to meet this partner and have these particular children. When a baby is born everything that came before it is justified."

Moody turned down the role of Doctor Who

Moody could have been the Time Lord in 1969, but having spent so long as Fagin, he didn't want to be tied down to one particular role again. The role was taken by Jon Pertwee and Moody said in later life that it was the biggest regret of his acting career

Moody taught Del Boy everything he knew

Moody acted in a production of Peter Pan with David Jason, the actor who played the inimitable Derek Trotter in Only Fools and Horses. In his autobiography, My Life, Jason described working with Moody as "a dream" and said that "you couldn't help but learn from the experience of being around people like that".

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