Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy!
Sir Roger George Moore was born in 1927 and died in 2017. I was a fan of his from way back, when he played The Saint on black and white TV (1962-1969). I had a crush before I knew what one was and blame Moore for my predilection for older, suave men. Moore brought that classiness to his Bond role, along with a scoop of humor. To date, Moore has actually played 007 the most times in Eon-produced Bond films (1973-1985), seven to Sean Connery’s six. If we count Never Say Never Again (1983, produced by Taliafilm in association with Kevin McClory), then they are tied at seven.
Moore began his show biz career at an animation studio, but was fired after making an error. Next, through his policeman father, young Roger met a director in 1945 and was hired as an extra. He promptly became a hit with women and had a female fan-following (“stans,” as we call them now). He then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where Lois Maxwell was studying also. Who is she? The future Miss Moneypenny, of course! At age 18, Moore was conscripted, but luckily WWII had already ended. He became a captain in West Germany, where he organized entertainment for the armed forces.
Roger Moore’s first TV appearance was in 1949 in “The Governess.” Next, he had a variety of roles until 1954 when he was signed to a seven-year contract at MGM. However, due to the colossal flop of a 1956 film in which he had a more significant role alongside Lana Turner, he was released from the contract. Poor Roger! He managed to achieve his first success in a 1958-1959 series “Ivanhoe” ~ which coincidentally also included Robert Brown in the cast. Who is he? Brown played M in several Bond films in the 1980s! Moore continued with television, signing a long-term contract with Warner Brothers in 1959. He had the lead in “The Alaskans” as well as a part in the 1960s show “Maverick,” playing a cousin to James Garner’s character. Fun fact: Sean Connery tested for that cousin part and turned it down.
Moore began piling up loads of credits for TV and movies during the 1960s, including his famous role in “The Saint” as Simon Templar. Now, he was an international star, playing the debonair, bantering gentleman with a raised eyebrow. This was his signature expression, conveying coolness, control, and knowledge of your secrets. (Moore directed nine episodes of “The Saint.”) In 1970, he starred in a challenging role in The Man Who Haunted Himself, which I need to see, since I’m reading that it may have been his best role. In 1971, Moore became the highest-paid TV actor in the world, collecting a million pounds sterling for a single series, “The Persuaders.” He starred alongside Tony Curtis in that role.
Roger Moore’s first appearance as James Bond took place in the 1964 comedy series “Mainly Millicent.” He stated that he had not been considered for 007 in the first Bond film Dr. No, and only after Sean Connery declared in 1966 that he was done with 007 did Moore become a contender. Albert Broccoli signed him in 1972, and Moore played James Bond for the first time on the big screen in one of my favorite 007 films ~ Live and Let Die (1973). He had to cut his hair and lose weight for the part, which he said he resented. Moore continued to play Bond in six more films: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (a massive success in 1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1979), Octopussy (1983), and finally A View to a Kill (1985). Between these movies, Moore was busy with roles in other major films. Dude was no slouch!
Moore retired from Bond in 1985, at age 58. After 12 years in the role, he changed our perception of James Bond from Connery’s serious character into a more lighthearted one. With his trademark raised eyebrow and penchant for quips and flirtation, Moore brought a great deal of humor and fun to the 007 role. Some people vastly prefer the Connery Bond, but I enjoy both equally ~ and I also love Brosnan and Craig as Bond. Moore changed the role partly due to the atmosphere of the 1970s and also because, as he said, “I’m not that cold-blooded killer type.” He played it for laughs.
Post-Bond, Moore continued acting in movies, including ones that parodied the 007 role. His last screen appearance was in 2017, the year of his death. Over his lifetime, Moore received many awards and honors, including being named a Goodwill Ambassador in 1991 and chosen as one of GQ’s 50 best-dressed British men in 2015. Roger was married four times: first at age 18 to an ice skater 6 years his senior, later to a singer 12 years his senior, whom he left for the Italian actress Luisa Mattoli, who became his third wife (with whom he had three children, all now in “the biz”), and finally to Kristina Tholstrup in 2000. I have summarized his love life here ~ it was complicated and messy, as was his health. Roger suffered from many ailments since childhood on, finally succumbing to liver cancer at age 89 in Switzerland.
Moore was politically conservative, though he didn’t want to be seen as a political figure or involve himself much in politics. He did, however, state in 2011 that any hardline conservative who spoke out against a conservative leader (in Britain) should be viewed as a traitor. Roger supported the Queen and in particular favored keeping British currency separate from the EU’s currency, due to his desire to have the Queen continue to appear on British coins, stamps, etc. In keeping with these views, Moore also stated that he was opposed to James Bond’s character becoming anything other than a straight, white man. He favored unions though, for himself and others, supporting the Cadbury workers’ protest against their factory’s closure. Moore resented paying the high taxes in Britain, however much he adored the monarchy, and in 1978 he became a resident of Switzerland and later Monaco. Regardless, Moore was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1999 and knighted in by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for charitable services. Roger Moore has a star on Hollywood Boulevard along with many other honors from various countries.
There’s a lot more to Moore and this is a longer post than I usually write ~ I’m sure I’ve lost most of my readers by now. I simply find Moore interesting, is all, and I am enjoying learning about him. Most of what I’ve written here I did not know before researching this post. I could go on, and on and on, but I will stop here.
Tune in tomorrow for more A-Z Bond!
Information and images from Wikipedia, jbsuits.com, and 007.com.
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