Oliver! actor Ron Moody dies aged 91

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Ron Moody: "Oliver! was a moment in one's life when you find where you really are"

Actor Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the hit film version of Oliver!, has died aged 91, his family says.

The British character actor was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1968 Charles Dickens adaptation.

He appeared in EastEnders as Edwin Caldecott, an old nemesis of Jim Branning, and played wizard Merlin in Disney's A Kid in King Arthur's Court.

His widow Therese said he would be "greatly missed".

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

Moody was born Ronald Moodnick in Tottenham, north London, on 8 January 1924, the son of Jewish immigrants. His father anglicised the family name to Moody several years later.

He had originally planned to be an economist and did not take up acting seriously until his late 20s.

His big break came in the 1960s when he was given the part of Fagin, the leader of a band of juvenile rogues and pickpockets, in Oliver!, the musical version of Dickens's Oliver Twist.

"Fate destined me to play Fagin. It was the part of a lifetime," he said.

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Moody as Edwin Caldicot on the EastEnders set in 2003

The actor first played the part in the stage production of Lionel Bart's musical in both the West End and on Broadway, before making the movie.

Speaking about the making of the film to The Guardian in 2012, Moody said he never expected to reprise his role because there had been "backstage hostilities" on the stage production.

But he said, "that summer of 1967 was one of the happiest times of my life".

"My proudest moment was the number Reviewing the Situation. I suspect that, because I gave my all to the role, and because I was working with such a fine team of people, it inhibited my future career," he added.

"I turned down quite a few offers afterwards because I thought the people didn't come close to those I'd worked with on Oliver! - which in retrospect was a mistake."

The actor said his biggest regret was turning down an opportunity to become one of the incarnations of The Doctor in Doctor Who.

But his lengthy career saw him play Captain Hook five times, Uriah Heep in David Copperfield, and the title role in Sherlock Holmes - the musical.

His other films included Murder Most Foul, Legend of the Werewolf and The Spaceman.

He is survived by his widow and six children.