'20/20': Dudley Moore Battles Brain Disease

MOORE: (From 1982 interview) Because she knew or thought that I was going to be so unhappy. Of course, this influenced the way I felt about myself, you know, so that I grew up with a great lack of self-confidence. And I spent a lot of time in the hospital, and I wasn't able to cope with it very well — until I discovered comedy.

WALTERS: (VO) He escaped through comedy and music, attending Oxford on an organ scholarship. There he formed the comedy group, Beyond the Fringe, and went on to enormous success with Peter Cook in both England and here in America on Broadway.

MOORE: (From an old comedy show) (Singing) "Until we meet again."

WALTERS: (VO) In the early '80s, at age 44, he became an unlikely international movie star and sex symbol when he was cast opposite Bo Derek in the film 10 by director Blake Edwards.

BLAKE EDWARDS, DIRECTOR: Oh, he's a consummate actor. His instincts are wonderful. He lives in a state of constant humor.

WALTERS: (VO) The film also showed the full range of his talent. Bo Derek remembers the first time Moore played the movie's theme song.

BO DEREK, ACTRESS: All of a sudden, Dudley started to play the song. And it was like a new piece of music. It was as though he transformed. And I remember everybody just sat wherever they were standing. They just sat down and watched him play.

WALTERS: (VO) Then came his 1981 Oscar-nominated success in Arthur.

(Clip from Arthur showing Dudley Moore appearing drunk)

BLAKE EDWARDS: He's a good actor. There are some people that just know how to play drunks. I make a study of drunks. And his drunk was as good as any I've ever seen.

(Clip from Arthur showing Moore appearing drunk)

WALTERS: (VO) Dudley Moore was on top of the world. He was hot, in demand, and on Hollywood's A-list. But after Arthur, with a series of bad film choices, his career spiraled downward.

So Moore returned to his first love, music. He began playing in jazz bands, recording classical albums, and performing with world-renowned orchestras, here with famous conductor Sir George Solti.

RENA FRUCHTER: I was absolutely blown away the first time I heard him play. I had no idea he was such a wonderful musician.

WALTERS: (VO) Seventeen years ago, as a music columnist for The New York Times, Rena Fruchter met and wrote about Moore and his music. They have been close friends and collaborators ever since.

RENA FRUCHTER: Dudley is a musician, I think, first. I think in his soul, he would probably have to agree with this. And everything else, I feel, grew around that.

WALTERS: What does music mean to you?

MOORE: Music means everything to me. It is an art that I love to practice.

WALTERS: (VO) But he never gave up on acting. In the early '90s, he starred in two television series, one called Daddy's Girl.

(Clip from Daddy's Girl)

WALTERS: (VO) Both series failed and those close to Moore remember that something seemed wrong, especially to his manager of 25 years, Lou Pitt.

(OC) Dudley was forgetting his lines?

LOU PITT: It wasn't that he was forgetting them. He was having difficulty grasping them.

WALTERS: What did you think?

LOU PITT: You know, at first, I thought that it was personal, that it was trouble, that he was preoccupied. This is a consummate professional. He would be there, you know, before anybody else. He would know all his lines.

WALTERS: And now, suddenly, he can't remember his lines.

LOU PITT: Couldn't remember a thing.

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