Hello, Dudley Moore

Cemeteries are strange places for all the reasons that you would expect, but also because of the people you discover buried there when you visited for another reason.

I have over the course of my life occasionally sought out the grave of a famous writer. The first was Stephen Crane in Hillside, New Jersey, a bike ride away from my childhood home.

I don't know what I expected to find other than the stone. I suspect that early on I may have thought some inspiration might be there. I was a big fan of Crane's poems and stories in my teen years.

So, imagine my surprise to turn around in the Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey and find Dudley Moore.

Oxford-trained classical pianist, comedian from the early 60's in "Beyond the Fringe," and best remembered for his starring roles in 10 and as the drunken, rich man "Arthur" in the I & II films of the same name.

My own favorites of his 40 or so films includes the 1960's Bedazzled. (Don't mention the remake in the same breath or a terrible fate will befall you.) It's a black comedy where Stanley (Moore) decides to end it all when he is stopped by George (Moore's old partner in comedy, Peter Cook) who is actually the Devil. ("You realize that suicide's a criminal offense. In less enlightened times they'd have hung you for it. ") Stanley sells his soul for seven wishes and gets to meet the 7 Deadly Sins.
I also love Dudley in his supporting role (as another Stanley) in one of my guilty pleasures, the comedy Foul Play.

He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) title by the Queen of England in 2001.

So what is he doing buried in NJ?

He actually attended that CBE ceremony in a wheelchair. Moore moved to Plainfield, New Jersey at the end of his life to be closer to he Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange for his physical therapy. Dudley Moore had Progressive Supranuclear Palsy which affects speech and muscular functions from mobility to the ability to swallow.

Ironically, when his symptoms first appeared, the slurred speech and other symptoms made people suspect that he too had a drinking problem like the characters he had played in Arthur and 10.

Dudley Moore was born April 19, 1935 and died March 27, 2002 from pneumonia (a side effect of PSP) at the age of 66.

Put a pebble on his gravestone.
Watch one of his films. Listen to his music.
Laugh. I think that would make him feel happy.

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