Closer Weekly - - News -

In­side the Arthur ac­tor’s tragic strug­gle to find last­ing love.

Dud­ley Moore swept Su­san An­ton off her feet at an LA award-show party in the early ’80s. “It caught us both by sur­prise,” Su­san tells Closer. “I’m 5-foot-11, and Dud­ley was 5-foot-2.” Weeks later, “We caught a glimpse of our­selves in a mir­ror, and it was hys­ter­i­cal.”

The comic’s in­fec­tious laugh won Dud­ley adu­la­tion in hits like 10 and Arthur, but it hid an in­ner pain. “It’s easy to think some­one that joy­ful doesn’t suf­fer heartache,” says Su­san, 66. “But he had a sad­ness, and hu­mor was his sur­vival mech­a­nism.”

The roots of Dud­ley’s de­pres­sion ran deep into his child­hood. Born in Lon­don with two clubbed feet, “His mother loved him but hated his de­for­mity,” says friend Rena Fruchter. “He car­ried a feel­ing of in­ad­e­quacy.”

Yet Dud­ley’s sense of hu­mor made him hugely pop­u­lar in Eng­land, where he teamed

with Peter Cook in films like 1967’s Be­daz­zled. When Hollywood called for Dud­ley, he left Peter — an al­co­holic — be­hind. Says Fruchter, “It’s my un­der­stand­ing Peter re­sented Dud­ley’s suc­cess.”

Dud­ley also suc­ceeded with women in the short term, mar­ry­ing and di­vorc­ing ac­tresses Suzy Ken­dall and Tues­day Weld be­fore fall­ing for Su­san. “His in­abil­ity to stay in a long-term re­la­tion­ship was based on view­ing his par­ents’ re­la­tion­ship as deadly dull,” Fruchter says. “He needed his life to be ex­cit­ing — he said as soon as the li­cense was in his hand, the mar­riage was over for him.”


Su­san and Dud­ley never wed, but “it was his abil­ity to truly lis­ten and care what you had to say” that won her over. Still, “Dud­ley made it very clear from the be­gin­ning that he was not a monog­a­mous kind of guy.”

Their ro­mance co­in­cided with Dud­ley’s as­cen­sion from sup­port­ing roles (Foul Play) to ro­man­tic leads in 10 and Arthur. “He didn’t set out to be a lead­ing man,” says Su­san. “But he was pro­foundly grate­ful.”

Sadly, his luck in love didn’t change. His third mar­riage, to ac­tress Bro­gan Lane, lasted only three years. “He des­per­ately wanted to know he could be loved un­con­di­tion­ally,” she tells Closer. “But the void he had in­side kept him con­stantly hun­gry for stim­u­la­tion, so it didn’t work.”

His fi­nal mar­riage, to Nicole Roth­schild, a woman 30 years his ju­nior, de­volved into ac­cu­sa­tions of spousal abuse and metham­phetamine use on Dud­ley’s part. It ended in 1998.

Around the same time, Dud­ley was di­ag­nosed with pro­gres­sive supranu­clear palsy, whose symp­toms mir­rored drunk­en­ness, and hurt­ful ru­mors spread that he was an al­co­holic be­cause he played one so con­vinc­ingly in Arthur.

Dud­ley died of pneu­mo­nia in 2002 at age 66, but his ir­re­press­ible spirit lives on. Says Su­san, “He did what he loved with all his heart.”

— Bruce Fretts, with re­port­ing by Katie Bruno

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