In Memoriam – Sir Roger Moore 1927 – 2017

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SIR ROGER MOORE KBE
1927 - 2017

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”William Shakespeare

As Bond fans, we dreaded that day when one of our beloved Bond actors would pass away and yet, it is inevitable. After a short but brave battle with cancer, Sir Roger Moore died on 23 May 2017 in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. He was 89. His passing was announced by his children Deborah, Christian and Geoffrey.

Millions of Bond fans grew up with his portrayal of secret agent 007 and many became fans because of him. His tenure between 1973 and 1985 earned him worldwide acclaim and it kept the James Bond series on a steady course. With seven films and 12 years in the role, Moore captivated audiences around the globe with his tongue-in-cheek humour, class and panache. 

But it wasn’t the actor alone that you came to admire as the years went on. Behind every film role is a character, a person made of flesh and blood. A great humanitarian, Sir Rogers vital work for UNICEF was pure and sincere devotion and very dear to him. With his name, a notable difference could be made in the world. For that alone, he deserves our respect and admiration.

I never thought that it would be so hard to write these lines. For many years I have admired Sir Roger for his extraordinary sense of humour, his kindness and versatility. From all the Bond actors, he was the one who was always happy to do something with Bond. Whether it was speaking about his time in the role or spoofing it in films and ad campaigns – he was a true ambassador of the franchise for the rest of his life. It is seldom that one man can touch the hearts of so many, influence generations and work tirelessly to change the world for the better. He did it all and remained down-to-earth at the same time. 

Sir Roger leaves behind an impressive array of films and television series as well as his delightful books – the products of a dedicated professional life that was well lived. It’s through these many wonderful moments, forever captured on film or the printed page, that we remember Sir Roger and his work. 

I speak for the whole Bond fan community when I say, that he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts go out to his wife Kristina as well as his children Deborah, Christian and Geoffrey. Your grief is felt around the world today as we mourn together.

In remembrance of Sir Roger Moore, The Bond Bulletin website will remain closed until Monday, 29 May 2017.

A LIFE IN FILM & TELEVISION

Born in Stockwell in 1927, Moore studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, during which his fees were paid by film director Brian Desmond Hurst, who also used Moore as an extra in his film Trottie True. At RADA, Moore was a classmate of his future Bond co-star Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny. At the age of 17, Moore appeared in his first screen role as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra (1945).

Shortly after the end of the second World War, Moore was conscripted for national service and commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant. He rose to the rank of captain, commanding a small depot in West Germany. He later looked after entertainers for the armed forces passing through Hamburg.

After modeling for print advertisements in the 1950s and briefly appearing on television in The Governess by Patrick Hamilton, Moore signed a seven-year contract with MGM. The early films were however unsuccessful at the box office and Moore was released from his MGM contract after only two years following the critical and commercial failure of Diane (1956).

After mainly doing television for a few years, Moore again signed a long-term contract with film studio Warner Bros. but would return to television in 1958 for Ivanhoe. Starring as the eponymous hero Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the series was a loose adaptation of the 1819 romantic novel by Sir Walter Scott. Set in the 12th century during the era of Richard the Lionheart, it explored the conflict between Ivanhoe and Prince John.

Between 1959-1960, Moore played the lead role as “Silky” Harris for the ABC/Warner Brothers  western The Alaskans, with co-stars Dorothy Provine, Jeff York and Ray Danton. The show ran for a single season of 37 hour-long episodes on Sunday nights. Moore was subsequently cast as Beau Maverick, an English-accented cousin of frontier gamblers Bret Maverick (James Garner), Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly) and Brent Maverick (Robert Colbert) in the much more successful ABC/WB western series Maverick. Sean Connery was flown over from England to test for the part but turned it down.

In 1962, the same year in which the first James Bond film hit cinemas, Lew Grade cast Moore in the role that would make him world-famous. In a new adaptation of The Saint, based on the novels by Leslie Charteris, he portrayed the lead character Simon Templar. Made in the UK with an eye to the American market, the series made Moore a household name and had propelled him to international stardom by spring 1967. The series also established his suave, quipping style which he carried forward to James Bond.

Following the end of the series, Moore starred in a challenging role for the film The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). Directed by Basil Dearden, it gave Moore the opportunity to demonstrate a wider versatility than the role of Simon Templar had allowed. Though not a hit with critics, the film is now widely regarded by film enthusiasts.

Television lured Moore back to star alongside Tony Curtis in The Persuaders!. The show featured the adventures of two millionaire playboys across Europe. Moore was paid the then-unheard-of sum of £1 million for a single series, making him the highest paid television actor in the world. 

After Sean Connery had declared  that he would not play Bond any longer in 1966, Moore became aware that he might be a contender for the role. However, after Australian George Lazenby was cast in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Connery returned to the role in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Moore did not consider the possibility until it seemed abundantly clear that Connery had in fact stepped down as Bond for good. At that point Moore was approached, and he accepted producer Albert Broccoli’s offer in August 1972.

After hist debut as agent 007 in Live and Let Die (1973), Moore continued to portray Bond in 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). With 12 years in the role between debut and retirement, Moore was the longest-serving James Bond actor, having made seven of the Eon Production Bond films in a row. He was also the oldest actor to have played Bond – he was 45 in Live and Let Die and 58 when he announced his retirement on 3 December 1985.

Moore’s Bond was very different from the version created by Ian Fleming. Screenwriters came up with scenarios in which Moore was cast as a seasoned, debonair playboy who would always have a trick or gadget in stock when he needed it. This was designed to serve the contemporary taste of the 1970s. Moore’s version of Bond was also known for his sense of humour and witty one liners, but also a skilled detective with a cunning mind.

Moore did not act on screen for five years after he stopped playing Bond; in 1990 he appeared in several films and in the writer-director Michael Feeney Callan’s television series My Riviera and starred in the film Bed & Breakfast which was shot in 1989; and also had a large role in the 1996 film The Quest; in 1997 he starred as the Chief in Spice World. At the age of 73, he played an amorous homosexual man in Boat Trip (2002) and, although the film was critically panned, Moore’s comedic performance was singled out by many critics and viewers as the one of the few enjoyable aspects of it.

In 2009 Moore appeared in the Victoria Wood Christmas Special on BBC1 show over the festive period in the same year. Filming all his scenes in the London Eye, his mission was to eliminate another agent whose file photo looks just like Pierce Brosnan. In 2010 Moore provided the voice of a talking cat called Lazenby in the film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore which contained several references to, and parodies of, Bond films. In 2011 Moore co-starred in the film A Princess for Christmas with Katie McGrath and Sam Heughan andin 2012 he took to the stage for a series of seven ‘Evenings with’ in UK theatres and, in November, guest-hosted Have I Got News For You.

Moore’s friend Audrey Hepburn had impressed him with her work for UNICEF, and consequently he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. He was the voice of Father Christmas or ‘Santa’ in the 2004 UNICEF cartoon The Fly Who Loved Me. In October 2015, Moore read Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Claus and Big Claus” for the children’s fairytales app GivingTales in aid of UNICEF, together with a number of other British celebrities, including Michael Caine, Ewan McGregor, Joan Collins, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, David Walliams, Charlotte Rampling and Paul McKenna.

Furthermore, Moore was involved in the production of a video for PETA that protests against the production and wholesale of foie gras. His assistance in this situation, and being a strong spokesman against foie gras, led to the department store Selfridges agreeing to remove foie gras from their shelves.

In his personal life, Roger Moore was married four times. In 1946, aged 18, Moore married a fellow RADA student, the actress and ice skater Doorn Van Steyn (born Lucy Woodard) who was six years his senior. In 1952, Moore met the Welsh singer Dorothy Squires, who was 13 years his senior, and Van Steyn and Moore divorced the following year. In 1961, while filming The Rape of the Sabine Women in Italy, Moore left Squires for the Italian actress Luisa Mattioli who he married in April 1969. Moore and Mattioli separated in 1993 after Moore’s affinity with a Swedish born Danish socialite, Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup. Moore later described his prostate cancer diagnosis in 1993 as “life-changing”, which led him to reassess his life and marriage. Moore would later say that he loved Tholstrup as she was “organised”, “serene”, “loving” and “calm”, saying that “I have a difficult life. I rely on Kristina totally. When we are traveling for my job she is the one who packs. Kristina takes care of all that”.

In 1999, Moore was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on 14 June 2003. The citation on the knighthood was for Moore’s charity work, which dominated his public life for more than a decade. Moore said that the citation “meant far more to me than if I had got it for acting… I was proud because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years”.

On 11 October 2008, three days before he turned 81, Moore was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work on television and in film. Attending the ceremony were family, friends, and Richard Kiel, with whom he had acted in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Moore’s star was the 2,350th star installed, and is appropriately located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.

In 2008, the French government appointed Moore a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In November 2012, Moore was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire, for his outstanding contributions to the UK film and television industry for over 50 years, in particular film and television productions in Hertfordshire.

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