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Overview for Peter Cook
Peter Cook

Peter Cook


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Also Known As: Peter Edward Cook Died: January 9, 1995
Born: November 17, 1937 Cause of Death: gastrointestinal hemorrhage
Birth Place: Devon, England, GB Profession: Cast ... actor producer screenwriter magazine editorial director nightclub owner


lly widely distributed as bootlegs, much to Mooreâ¿¿s embarrassment, as he had begun his Hollywood career. He eventually relented, and three "Derek and Clive" albums were released, beginning in 1976 with Derek and Clive (Live) and culminating in Derek and Clive Get the Horn (1979), a documentary chronicling the recording of their final album, Derek and Clive Ad Nauseum (1978). For longtime fans of Cook and Moore, the recordings and film provided a harrowing behind-the-scenes look at the fragmenting relationship between the two comics. Cook frequently deviated into long and vicious attacks on Mooreâ¿¿s successful career. One such diatribe, captured on film in "Get the Horn," actually sent Moore out of the recording studio, only to return later and dissolve into gales of laughter over a comment by Cook. Though fans loved the recordings, they effectively signaled the end of Cookâ¿¿s relationship with Moore. They would reunite for one final effort, an astonishingly childish and unfunny adaptation of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1978), which barely saw release in the United States.

Back in England, Cook⿿s personal life had unraveled due to his alcoholism. His marriage to college sweetheart Wendy Snowden came to an end in 1974, after which he married Judy Huxtable in New York. He was also estranged from his two daughters by Snowden, and buried his frustrations and disappointments in a wide-ranging series of projects, including a column for The Daily Mail, a curious spoken word/rock hybrid album called Consequences by 10cc members Kevin Godley and Lol Crème, and appearances on television and radio. He received something of a career boost when John Cleese invited him to participate in "The Secret Policemen⿿s Ball," a series of live benefit performances for Amnesty International. Cook reunited with his "Beyond the Fringe" partners for one performance, then stood in for Eric Idle in several Monty Python sketches. He also penned an original sketch, "Entirely a Matter for You," which parodied the trial of Liberal Party member Jeremy Thorpe, who was accused of homosexual acts and the attempted murder of his lover. The nine-minute sketch was later considered one of Cook⿿s finest works.

The 1980s saw Cook attempting to rebuild his career through a variety of projects. He traveled to America to star in the CBS sitcom "The Two of Us" (1981-82) as an arrogant Englishman who consents to serve as butler to a TV talk show host (Mimi Kennedy), then appeared in the pirate comedy "Yellowbeard" (1983), which he co-wrote with Graham Chapman, and "Supergirl" (1984). All were miserable failures, so he returned to England, where he scored a special for London Weekend Television called "Peter Cook and Co." (1980). Eventually, Cook settled for guest appearances on other comedians⿿ programs. In this state, he fared well, making a memorable appearance on "The Comic Strip Presents⿦" (Channel 4, 1982-2005) as a killer who covered the sounds of his crimes by playing Tom Jones albums. He also appeared in Rob Reiner⿿s "The Princess Bride" and "Great Balls of Fire" (1989), but perhaps his most inspired work of the 1980s was a series of calls to radio host Clive Bull⿿s talk show, where he impersonated a Norwegian fisherman obsessed with his ex-wife and his countrymen⿿s fascination with herring. Bull knew that the fisherman, named Sven, was a character, but was not aware of its celebrity creator until much later.

The late 1980s saw Cook settle into something approaching contentment. He married his third wife, property developer Lin Chong, in 1989, and enjoyed domestic bliss, despite the fact that the couple lived in separate houses 100 yards apart. He had also gotten control of his drinking, and earned rave reviews for playing four roles, including an alien abductee and a Keith Richards-esque rocker, on the comedy series "Clive Anderson Talks Back" (1989-1996). He also revived one of his most celebrated characters from his partnership with Moore, the deluded Sir Arthur Streeb-Gribling, in a series of short, improvised interviews that were later released as "A Life in Pieces." The popularity of these shorts led to work on the Radio 3 series "Why Bother?" as Streeb-Gribling. However, in 1994, his motherâ¿¿s death caused a serious relapse of his drinking, and he struggled through the next yearâ¿¿s worth of television appearances.

In January 1995, Cook was hospitalized after complaining of feeling poorly. He suffered a gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which was due to severe liver damage, and died on January 9. Tributes from both sides of the Atlantic poured in, with numerous comedians citing him as the founding father of modern British comedy. Moore himself presented a two-night memorial for his former partner in Los Angeles on what would have been Cook⿿s 58th birthday in November. A minor planet was named 20468 Petercook in 1999. Cook⿿s life and work was also the subject of several plays, as well as a TV movie, "Not Only But Always⿦" (Channel 4, 2004), with Rhys Ifans starring as a somewhat unsympathetic Cook. In 2009, a plaque was erected by the Westminster City Council at the site of the Establishment Club in honor of all Cook and Co. had created.s led to a quartet of specials for ITV called "Goodbye Again" (1968), which expanded on the "Pete and Dud" dialogues while experimenting with accepted sketch comedy structure by eliminating punch lines from sketches and allowing them to flow together in a stream-of-consciousness style later adopted by Monty Python, whose own John Cleese was featured in the cast of "Goodbye Again." The specials were not well received by audiences, and Cook⿿s own talents were blunted by a growing dependence on alcohol that forced him to rely on cue cards.

Cook and Moore would eventually try their hand at motion pictures, including the offbeat period comedy "The Wrong Box" (1966) as a pair of scheming brothers on the trail of a fortune. Their next effort, "Bedazzled" (1967), was largely considered as their best big screen collaboration, though at the time of its release, it was ignored by audiences. Penned by Cook, the film starred Moore as a hapless short order cook who makes a deal with the Devil (Cook) to win the heart of his crush (Eleanor Bron). Moore was then put through a series of wishes based on the Seven Deadly Sins â¿¿ Raquel Welch gave a memorable appearance as Lust â¿¿ which are undone by Cookâ¿¿s Satan. The duo would appear in Spike Milliganâ¿¿s surreal, post-apocalyptic comedy "The Bed-Sitting Room" (1969) and the forgettable "Monte Carlo or Bust" (1969) before Cook returned to television. He had tired of his collaborations with Moore and hoped to establish himself as a solo act.

His first effort in this direction was "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer" (1970), a dark satire of British politics with Cook as a mysterious advertising executive who schemed his way to prime minister status. Penned by Cook with John Cleese and Graham Chapman, the film failed to find an audience, as did an attempt at hosting his own talk show, called "Where Do I Sit?" He was replaced after two episodes by Michael Parkinson, who became one of England⿿s leading television personalities. Cook was soon forced to reunite with Moore for "Behind the Fridge," a stage show based on sketches from "Not Only⿦ But Also." A success in America, where it won a Tony Award, the show⿿s sole weak point was Cook, whose alcoholism made him an unreliable presence. When "Fridge" ended its stateside run, Moore remained in America while Cook returned to England, which brought their often acrimonious relationship to an end for a second time.

During the Broadway run of "Fridge," Cook and Moore would frequently improvise a series of foul-mouthed sketches as "Derek and Clive." Cook eventually rented a recording studio to preserve these routines on vinyl, as well as give both an opportunity to calm the growing tensions between them. The recordings were eventua

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