LONDON — The actor Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the movie “Oliver!,” has died at the age of 91.
“He brought joy to his family and to the hearts of many and will be greatly missed. He was singing until the end,” Moody’s widow Therese Blackbourn Moody told the BBC.
Moody is best known for the role of the criminal Fagin in the Charles Dickens adaptation “Oliver!,” a role that earned him Oscar and BAFTA nominations, as well as a Golden Globe win in 1969. The film received 11 Oscar nomination and took home six statuettes, including for film and director for Carol Reed.
Moody first appeared as Fagin in Lionel Bart’s West End stage adaptation in 1960, and won a Tony when he returned to the role for a Broadway revival in 1984.
“Fate destined me to play Fagin. It was the part of a lifetime,” he said.
The depiction of Fagin in the source novel, “Oliver Twist,” is controversial as it has been alleged to be anti-Semitic, but Moody claimed his portrayal was not. “I couldn’t possibly have played the role if it was seen as antisemitic,” he told the Jewish Chronicle. “I knew in my Jewish bones, he was a funny character, who would get laughs, because I played him anarchistically.”
Other parts included Merlin in Disney’s “A Kid in King Arthur’s Court,” as well as guest roles in multiple TV series, including “Starsky and Hutch” and “Hart to Hart.” One part he rejected was as Doctor Who, a decision he later regretted.
He is survived by his widow and six children.