Letters, cards, and notes began arriving in the months preceding Dudley Moore’s 64th birthday in 1999. Hoping to cheer up the comedian, who’d been stricken with progressive supranuclear palsy at the time, his friend Barbara Paskin asked his former co-stars and friends to send him messages — and she was shocked by the response.
“There was a parody, by Paul McCartney, of The Beatles’ hit ‘When I’m Sixty-Four,'” said Barbara, author of the new book Dear Dudley: A Celebration of the Much-Loved Comedy Legend. “And loving notes from Elton John, Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Lemmon, Mel Brooks, Michael Caine, and hundreds more. By the time I’d assembled all the letters, they filled two massive albums. Dudley was overwhelmed.”
Barbara revealed she “managed to contact nearly 300 celebrities, telling them only that Dudley was ill” and about to celebrate his birthday. “I was blown away by the response,” Barbara said in an article she wrote for the Daily Mail on Nov. 18. “Over the next four months, letters poured in from all over the world, bearing loving messages and words of comfort to the man who’d given them so much pleasure through his music and humor.” Barbara’s mission to lift the frailing man’s spirits was accomplished. “It was extraordinary that they would write me,” the Bedazzled star once said.
Dudley rose to fame in 1979 when he starred alongside Bo Derek in the hit film 10. The actor played a Hollywood songwriter named George Webber who falls hopelessly in love with the woman of his dreams, Jenny Hanley (played by Bo). With this role, Dudley became a household name. The England native was also an accomplished concert pianist.
Though Dudley sadly passed away from pneumonia at age 66 in March 2002, he was very accomplished and loved throughout his short life. In the fall of 2001, just before his death, Dudley was even honored with a CBE from Prince Charles. Nearly 17 years after his passing, Dudley’s story and legacy still lives on.
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