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Moore saluted in Carnegie benefit

GOOD MORNING FROM NEW YORK: The star of Carnegie Hall was not onstage Monday night. He was seated in a box in the first tier, but a soft spotlight was on his face throughout the concert. He was Dudley Moore, and it was an early 66th birthday party for him (his birthday is Thursday). The evening was titled “Music for All Seasons’ Benefit Salute to Dudley Moore: A Man for All Seasons.” Moore is suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, for which there is no cure; he was diagnosed with the rare syndrome in November 1999. The evening raised funds for the Dudley Moore Research Fund for PSP and for another of his favorite not-for-profit orgs, Music for All Seasons, which provides music to hospitals, nursing homes, geriatric centers, children’s hospitals, etc. … The once mop-haired Moore’s locks are now thinned and his famous cherubic face is gaunt and pale. But his eyes still twinkle devilishly, and as the memorable evening progressed he managed to smile often; at the spectacular finale, he was able to rise and applaud the stageful of generous participants. When the players were not on stage, they watched in the wings as a monitor played his reactions. Moore’s two daughters lovingly guided well-wishers who came by during the intermission. Tony Adams, who magnificently produced the evening, noted of the performers, “I’ve never worked with people who were so moved by an honoree.”

CARNEGIE HALL’S MASSIVE STAGE was totally blank when a trap drummer began to softly start a beat, which brought on a writhing troupe of 55 members of “Blast!” They soon broke into “Bolero” and proceeded to play Ravel’s classic, which was memorably used for the Moore-Bo Derek love scene in Blake Edwards’ “10.” The feature also was the first meeting between Moore and Adams … Clips from Moore’s movies and his hysterical commercials were created by Maria Schlatter and spaced among the many guest appearances; howls from the audience greeted each seg. It is almost impossible to realize the talent he displayed physically, vocally, musically — as was demonstrated on this program. Barbara Walters made the warm welcoming remarks to intro the celeb cast, and ditto’d for the show’s second act; she reminded the aud that many unkind stories about Moore were ignorantly printed as he was suffering from the early onset of the illness … Julie Andrews, who had co-starred with Moore in “10,” was not able to attend due to rehearsals for the “live” CBS “On Golden Pond,” but she and co-star Christopher Plummer taped a video.

DUDLEY MOORE’S AMAZING classical composing was introduced by Tony Randall. Robert Mann, whose quartet performed Moore’s creations, is a longtime friend of Moore’s and revealed that the performer is the greatest sight-reader of music he has ever known. Once, at Mann’s home, Moore was invited to play “anything.” He joined Itzhak Perlman on a piece Dudley had never read before! … Switching to the comedic, Eric Idle and “Saturday Night Live’s” Jimmy Fallon teamed on the famous one-legged “Tarzan” sketch Moore originated with Idle … Chevy Chase followed, both humorously with reminiscences of “Foul Play” and seriously on piano with the jazzy “Alice in Wonderland.” Bo Derek, looking as beautiful as she did in “10,” admitted, “If it wasn’t for you, Dudley, I would have been a zero!” John Ritter brought on Anne Runolfsson, who brought down the house singing “Night and Day,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” and “Too Marvelous.” (Runolfsson, Mrs. Tony Adams, has starred on B’way and in concert.) In the second act, Walters brought on Christopher Cross for the theme from “Arthur.” Jill Eikenberry followed with a clip from the pic, saying working with Moore “was like a magical experience.” Lauren Bacall, who was due to be in L.A. to welcome new grandson Sebastian Robards, delayed a day to also pay tribute to Dudley … Mary Tyler Moore, who co-starred with Moore in “Six Weeks,” told Moore, “I’ll always look up to you.” … Too bad John Cleese could not have been there in person to hear the hysterical response to his remarks, though he seriously added, “Dudley is a double national treasure.” And talking bawdy: Robin Williams, who said he was working somewhere in Canada (with remarks to illustrate!), also gave a Williamesque salute to Dudley. A clip from “Micki and Maude” was shown, but Ann Reinking was unable to be on hand, as she’s appearing on B’way in “Fosse.” However, she did make it to the supper party following at the Essex House. Michael Tucker gave his tribute to Moore and read a salute to Moore’s pianistics from Oscar Peterson … John Dankworth, who gave Dudley his first orchestra job, duetted with wife Cleo Laine, appropriately, on Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive.” Dudley rose to applaud them. For the finale, “Blast!” again paraded on stage to lead the entire cast. They all looked up to Moore; Chase blew him a kiss as the Carnegie Hall audience rose, looked up to him as well and sang “Happy Birthday.” Whatta night to remember. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. “Happy Birthday Dudley” also was sung to Moore at the supper party; he’d taken an hour to rest before making an appearance. The great evening was also sponsored by American Airlines. Items auctioned at the party included breakfast with Bo Derek, coffee with Barbara Walters backstage at “The View,” a walk-on on “Law & Order” and travel by American Airlines.

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