'Oliver!' actor Ron Moody dies

Moody portrayed the character of Fagin in the 1968 movie 'Oliver!' and was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for the role. He also appeared on the BBC soap opera 'EastEnders' and such TV series as 'The Avengers.'

Michael Crabtree/AP
British actor Ron Moody attends an event in London in 1999.

British actor Ron Moody, best known for playing Fagin in the 1968 film "Oliver!," has died. He was 91.

Moody, who received an Oscar nomination for best actor for his signature performance in the Charles Dickens adaptation, died Thursday, said his agent, Janet Glass.

The actor, the son of Jewish immigrants, was born Ronald Moodnick in London. He did not start acting until he was studying sociology and psychology at the London School of Economics under a serviceman's grant after serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

"While there, I got dragged into taking part in a student revue and ended up writing, and appearing in, a few sketches. In short, I got the stage bug," he said years later. "Soon after, I was discovered in an end-of-term show by two writers who put me in their stage revue, and I've never looked back."

Moody played Fagin in the stage version of the musical "Oliver!" in the West End and on Broadway before starring in the film. He was forever identified with the role of the miserly Fagin, who led a gang of youthful pickpockets.

Besides snaring an Oscar nomination, Moody won a Golden Globe Best Actor award and a Moscow International Film Festival award for his portrayal of Fagin.

"Oliver!" brought him worldwide attention and the fame allowed him to develop a long career in TV and film, including a role in the long-running BBC soap opera EastEnders. He acted in numerous popular TV series, including "The Avengers," ''Starsky and Hutch," and "Gunsmoke."

He is survived by his widow Therese and six children.

"He brought joy to his family and to the hearts of many and will be greatly missed," his widow said. "He was singing until the end."

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