Peter Cook

Active - 1966 - 2004  |   Born - Nov 17, 1937 in Torquay, Devon, England  |   Died - Jan 9, 1995   |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Cambridge-educated Peter Cook was, along with Dudley Moore, David Frost and Jonathan Miller, one of the founders of the irreverent British comedy troupe "Beyond the Fringe." When the group came to Broadway (an event celebrated on a near-nightly basis on such TV programs as The Jack Paar Program and The Ed Sullivan Show), Cook shared a Tony award with his fellow Fringers. Together with longtime collaborator Dudley Moore, Cook split off into a two-man act. The towering Cook and diminutive Moore co-starred in such cheeky British comedies as The Wrong Box (1968) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1968), usually writing all their own material. The best of their filmic collaborations was Bedazzled, a breezily sacrilegious update of the "Faust" legend. While they remained friends, Cook and Moore eventually decided that they'd fare better as "singles." Cook continued to write for and appear in such films as Supergirl (1984), The Princess Bride (1986) and Great Balls of Fire (1989), and also co-starred with Mimi Kennedy on the 1981 American TV sitcom The Two of Us. Peter Cook died of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at the age of 57.

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  • Wrote comedy sketches in college as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club.
  • First performed the satirical stage show Beyond the Fringe with Dudley Moore at the 1959 Edinburgh Festival.
  • Opened comedy nightclub the Establishment in 1961.
  • Cofounded the British satirical magazine Private Eye in 1961.
  • Rose to fame in the 1960s with Dudley Moore on the BBC comedy Not Only...But Also
  • Appeared on Broadway in 1974's Good Evening.
  • Played Sherlock Holmes in the 1978 spoof The Hound of the Baskervilles, which he cowrote.
  • Cowrote and appeared in the 1982 concert film The Secret Policeman's Other Ball.
  • Starred on the CBS sitcom The Two of Us, as a proper English manservant, for two seasons beginning in 1981.
  • Voted best comedian of all time by 300 fellow comics, writers and producers in a 2005 poll.