Roger Moore has died from cancer at the age of 89.
The charismatic star is best known for his 12-year run as James Bond from 1973 to 1985, along with his turn as Simon Templar in The Saint, a show which ran from 1962-1969.
Born in London on 14 October 1927, Moore trained at RADA before being conscripted into the army. He worked as a model following his military service, before moving to the US where he became an MGM contract player, starring in a variety of supporting roles in several disappointing movies. Cut loose by MGM, he signed a contract with Warner Bros and starred in the short-lived Ivanhoe series from 1958 – 1959, before moving onto The Alaskans (’59-’60). He then joined the cast of Maverick, playing Beau Maverick, the cousin of James Garner’s Brett Maverick. Moore would then continue in the show after Garner dropped out due to salary disputes but the show soon floundered following its star’s departure.
Moore hit pay-dirt in 1962 when he was cast as Simon Templar in the TV adaptation of Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. The show ran until 1969 and it helped create Moore’s trademark eyebrow raise, along with pitching him as a suave ladies’ man. It was during the making of The Saint that Moore was first approached by Cubby Broccoli to replace Sean Connery as Bond, but series commitments meant he was unavailable. In 1970 he starred in The Man Who Haunted Himself, a dark thriller which saw Moore deliver the best performance of his career.
Moore returned to TV in 1971 to star opposite Tony Curtis in producer Lew Grade’s jet-setting adventure, The Persuaders. Lasting for 24 episodes, the witty buddy comedy once again played to Moore’s strengths – and it saw the actor design his own wardrobe! The Persuaders was never the hit that many hoped, but it’s failure meant that he was able to take on Bond in 1973’s Live And Let Die. He would go on to play Bond in a further 6 films: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); Moonraker (1979); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Octopussy (1983); and A View to a Kill (1985).
He was a very different Bond from Sean Connery, playing up the humour in the films, always giving a knowing wink as proceedings got increasingly far-fetched. Moore was at home playing the character and audiences flocked to his films in droves – Moonraker grossed a mind-boggling $200 million in 1979. He hung up his Walther PPK at the age of 58 following 1985’s A View To A Kill. Timothy Dalton followed in his footsteps, but we was never able to achieve the same success in the role.
Other notable films include Gold (1974), The Wild Geese (1978), North Sea Hijack (1979), The Sea Wolves (1981) and Cannonball Run (1981). A slew of lesser films followed over the years (the highlight was probably Jean Claude Van Damme’s The Quest) but at this time he dedicated himself to being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and he was knighted in 2008 for services to charity. The actor was also a ladies’ man off screen, having been married four times. His first three failed marriages were to Dooryn van Steyn, Dorthy Squires and Luisa Mattioni. He leaves behind his widow Kristina, who he married in 2002.
Moore was a well regarded raconteur, frequently regaling tales on talk shows as well as on his very successful Audience With Roger Moore theatre tours. He also published several memoirs, The first, Roger Moore’s Own Account of Filming Live and Let Die. My Word Is My Bond followed in 2008, Bond On Bond was published in 2012 and Last Man Standing: Tales from Tinseltown hit shelves in 2014. Moore’s publisher Michael O’Mara announced that he finished a final manuscript just 2 weeks before his death.
I don’t remember a world without Roger Moore. When I was born in the ’80s he was well into his run as James Bond and the first film I remember seeing at the cinema was his final 007 film, A View To A Kill. Moore was my first-ever screen hero and his James Bond will always be my Bond. I admired his style, his wit and his self-deprecating humour. I had the opportunity to see him on stage discussing his life and career and he was simply everything that you would want from a movie star. Moore lived a long and fruitful life and he brought light to many people’s lives from his onscreen work as well as his work as a humanitarian.
Roger Moore 1927 – 2017