Ron Moody

Forename/s: 
Ron
Family name: 
Moody
Work area/craft/role: 
Interview Number: 
377
Interview Date(s): 
19 Apr 1996
24 Feb 1998
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
180

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Interview
Interview notes

behp0377-ron-moody-summary

[Transcribed from Joyce Robinson’s handwritten notes. DS]

TAPE ONE

Born 8th January 1924 in Tottenham, one of two children of Jewish immigrants. Ron comments on ‘ethnic/ecological’ movement of same and of being a ‘marginal man’. Inspired to act early by parlour poetry, at home: a successful ‘Shylock’ at school. Evacuated during the war, Ron was called up as air crew. Met Alfred Marks, Frank Muir in Hendon [RAF] Camp shows. Went to the LSE [London School of Economics] as a post-war student, ‘Very happy days’.  An ed. Instructor where he had mustered had worked as an accountant for six years previously. Studied sociology, anthropology at LSE. Great friend of Bernard Levin (Chico to Ron’s Harpo in student reviews) such as Place Pigalle, Holiday Farm, Amusement Only, Rigor Mortis and Intimacy at Eight. 1952-53. Marginal Man, Stick it Below the Line; plus performances at ‘hops’ [dances. DS]. Discovered at one by Ronnie Cass and Peter Myers. Torn between working for PhD and showbusiness, when £3 grant ran out. Auditioned for Cass & Myers, and Amusement Only. Replaced Geoffrey Hibberd. Six years of reviews followed. Went on to play a year of Oliver! – seven-year run! (Comments on the ‘hogging’ of long run productions these days in theatres). Next a third Adults Only and Candide. An interest/passion for clowning developed at this stage; began work on Joey. Robert Lewis (director, Candide) very helpful in master-classes. In 1970 ran a one-man show, with success in Westcliffe Move Along Sideways. Bill Bourne, journalist/critic also supportive as well as Peter Coe/Vivienne Martin. Carol Reed a most helpful supportive professional director, taught Ron film acting. Ron supported Sam Wanamaker at Wooden O/Bankside [Globe Theatre. DS] for some 20 years. Ron comments on feeling a little ‘blocked’ at this stage, and thinks he’s considered an eccentric performer, and unlikely to play [King] Lear. Ron played Richard III successfully in Canada; would like own shot at ‘classic’ theatre; he also has thought of a classical clown theatre company.

TAPE TWO

A recent sixth child born since last interview. Ron mentions the recent workshop A Kid for Two Farthings: short run. Still a ‘possible’. Speaks of making The Twelve Chairs with Mel Brookes in Hollywood; also, Dog Pound Shuffle and the horror film Legend of the Werewolf, with Peter Cushing (Rank). Wrote The Showman. Played in The Mouse on the Moon, with Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford. Speaks of vital differences working in film, theatre, radio: for radio, The Devil You Don’t. Of books written, 4 novels and 7000 words in ‘My LSE’. (Robson)/ A recently completed The Amazon Box (would make a good film script”) and Very Slightly Imperfect, commenting on American TV. A new musical opens soon. Talk of radio: The Soldiers Tale, Follies, My Fair Lady, Peter Pan. Ron enjoys the feeling of control in radio work and the same applies to TV. Voice-over (works for Telemagination and Telebuys [?]). Comments on present [1998] altenative comedians and their material. On to Sherlock Holmes – the Musical and Nobody’s Perfect. Ron refers to the radio programme Schmooze and Showbiz (1997) about Jewish entertainers. Ron is willing to take on diverse work – with six children to educate. He still worries about his London accent. He has illustrated The Amazon Box himself. Speaks of feelings about unions and of being referred to often as ‘Britain’s most under-rated actor. “The brain’s turned up but I’m still insecure.”

[END]

Transcript
Biographical

Born Tottenham in London to Jewish parents on Jan 8th 1924. Parents were grocers. and then fatjer became master plasterer at ABC studios.  An advocate of the removal of the fourth wall when playing Shakespeare on stage.  Moody family were stagestruck. Moody dressed up for the family at gaterings although very shy.Wanted to ba an actor at 5. At secondary school aged 11 read Shylock in class. Stayed in London in WW2. Joined airforce trained for aircrew and went into Radar and as an instuctor...Did George Formby impresssion on stage with ukelelee.. LSE after war. Marx brothers film watched continously at LSE (London School of Economics). Involved in amateur theatricals at LSE. Writer of book " My LSE".  Temporary job as Postman at Xmas. Became professional in 1952 in Peter Myers review. Did reviews on stage at various venues. Auditioned as Fagin for Oliver 1960. Lionel Bart wanted Sid James or Max Bygraves.for Fagin originally. Rumour was Lionel Bart wanted to play Fagin himself. Moody did many workshops after Oliver. Toured Canada and played Shakespeare for Peter Coe. Visited Hollywood after Oliver film. In 1979 lived there for two years doing TV. series Nobody's Perfect. Various TV roles as well as writing. Played at Hackney Empire to preserve it as a theatre.Radio programmes with other contemporary actors. Voice overs for cartoons and some commercials. Some illustrations. Member of NATKE. Comments on Jewish participation in Entertainment.