Ron Moody


  1. Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins, 1963.  
    OK, chimney sweep Bert had to sing and dance it up. But he also had to be at home with a Cockney accent. Only a few US stars could manage that. Sadly, Van Dyke was not among them. Nor were Fred Astaire, Cary Grant or Danny Kaye…UK author PL Travers didn’t like how books were Hollywoodised and took 25 years to accept Walt Disney’s plan for her governess. She then felt the result “vulgar and disrespectful” – and, like most Brits, loathed Van Dyke’s Bert. But then she knew nothing about cinema, having suggested the august (and aged) Alec Guinness, Rex Harrison. Even Laurence Olivier – To sweep, or not to sweep…  Plus Richards Burton and Harris, Peters O’Toole and Sellers. (Only Sellers made sense). Disney wanted Stanley Holloway – busy reprising his My Fair Lady stage role. Loving the movie but feeling miscast, Van Dyke nominated Jim Dale (a Disney star in the 70s) and agreed with Travers about Ron Moody… who would have frightened not only the horses but the kids, as well.

  2. Patrick Troughton, Doctor Who, TV, 1966-1969.
  3. Jon Pertwee, Doctor Who, TV, 1970-1974.
  4. David Tomlinson, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971.     The first Disney idea was marrying Fagin and MaryPoppins-Moody and Julie Andrews.
  5. Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, 1971.      Author Roald Dahl ’s original choice to play his eccentric chocolatier was BBC radio Goon Spike Milligan. Next? Spike’s co-Goon Peter Sellers was too expensive. LA’s choice, Joel Grey, was “not physically imposing enough.” Oliver‘s Moody would have frightened the horses – and the kids. UK comic Frankie Howerd was into two film farces. Jon Pertwee was wed to Doctor Who. Carry On stars Sidney James and Kenneth Williams were as keen as (a way too old) Fred Astaire. One by one, all six Monty Pythons (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jonwes, Michael Palin) were judged not international enough (and Howerd, Milligan and Pertwee were?!) Cleese, Idle and Palin were offered the 2005 re-hash, by which time Chapman had died and Gilliam andy Jones had  turned director.
  6. Leonard Rossiter, Le Petomane, 1978.      Flatulist Jospeh Pujol (1857-1945) was a French star appearing before “crowned heads of Europe” – by making a whole new art form out of… farting   .Moody refused the script by UK comic Tony Hancock’s brilliant writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.  Not good for his image. (Er, what image?) 
  7. Roddy McDowall, Tales of the Gold Monkey, TV, 1982-1983.   Londoner Moody was the  saloon-keeper Bon Chance Louie in the tele-film of the same name,. but not in the short, 22-episode series – headed by the later disgraced Stephen Collins.  In a December 2014 interview with People magazine, he admitted “inappropriate sexual conduct with three female minors” in 1973, 1982, and 1994. He hasn’t acted since moving to Iowa.
  8. David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.   This time he was no longer up for Willy Wonka, but Grandpa Joe… Among Tim Burton’s choices, two passed before passing: Gregory Peck and Peter Ustinov. Also in the loop: Michael Caine, George Calin (yes, not Carlin), Kirk Douglas, Albert Finney, Richard Griffiths, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lloyd (favourite of author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy), Armin Mueller-Stahl, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Max von Sydow, Eli Wallach, David Warner. Burton finally gave the role to Kelly (“in three minutes”) on running into him at Pinewood studios on r another film.


 Birth year: 1924Death year: 2015Other name: Casting Calls:  8