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Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017)


  23 May 2017  

Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017)


It took a few more years and the more sober considered view of the grown man I eventually and grudgingly became, to rightly put Moore’s achievements into their correct context.

I remain a devotee of Fleming, Dalton and Connery, but I now appreciate that while Roger Moore’s Bond films may not possess the dramatic or artistic brilliance exhibited in the likes of From Russia With Love or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, for children growing up in the 1970s and 80s – like me – he WAS Bond, as much as Connery was to those whose formative years were the 1960s.

Moonraker (1979)

The sense of fun and style that Moore brought to his seven appearances as 007 won the films a wider family audience than before, ensuring James Bond’s cinematic survival into the 90s and beyond.

Given the tiresome and often mind-numbing mechanics of the filmmaking process, it is an underrated achievement to make playing James Bond look so effortless, but Moore managed it.

His insouciance, charisma and ability to connect with audiences young and old alike were the product of years of experience on television and in film, as well as solid training at RADA and within the Hollywood ‘studio system’.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Moore may not have possessed great dramatic range, but he developed an incredibly successful and entertaining persona, firstly as The Saint and later in The Persuaders with Tony Curtis, and eventually, with minor adjustments, on assuming the role of Bond. It was a persona which viewers instinctively warmed to.

An aspect of Moore’s life and career that has always fascinated me is the fact he grew up a couple of miles down the road from where I was born and brought up – namely in Stockwell and Streatham – or St. Ockwell and St. Reatham as he once charmingly renamed them.

The only child of a restaurant cashier and policeman, I would love to know at what point Moore was able to transmogrify his relatively humble origins as a South London lad into his eventual on and off screen persona of the quintessential upper-class English gentleman.

Octopissy (1983)

I wonder if, like Cary Grant’s transformation from ‘Archibald Leach’ a few years before him, 'Roger Moore' was actually a carefully and consciously constructed edifice and identity which this Stockwell lad adopted, and then subsumed himself within.

Speculation aside as to the private forces and ambitions that forged Moore's unique persona, it is unarguable that the man himself summed up some of the best virtues of upper class Britishness and Englishness – modesty, self deprecation, grace and politeness among them. There did not seem to be a trace of meanness or cruelty in his body, and he seemed refreshingly free of the precious or over-serious air that many actors possess.

A View To A Kill (1985)

Unique among all the Bonds, Moore never seemed to be overwhelmed by the role or resent the publicity it brought him, despite suffering criticism which, at times, was arguably more savage than that endured by his predecessors or successors. Indeed, Sir Roger once declared: “Being eternally known as James Bond has no down side” – sentiments I can’t ever imagine being expressed by Connery, Lazenby, Dalton, Brosnan or Craig.

In the final analysis, for me, Roger Moore wasn’t the greatest James Bond of all time, but he was a man who provided me with many wonderful childhood memories and who, in a strange way, I loved, even though I only met him once and very fleetingly.

From a human perspective, through his incredibly dedicated work for UNICEF, Sir Roger did more to enhance the public good than most actors or entertainers ever manage, while from the perspective of this 007 MAGAZINE contributor, he was the greatest, most graceful and gentlemanly advocate and ambassador the James Bond series ever had.

One gets the impression he would be satisfied with such an epitaph.

Rest in peace, Sir Roger.

Roger Moore in Moonraker (1979)


The actors who have played James Bond have given their tributes to Sir Roger Moore following his passing on Tuesday.

Sir Sean Connery and Sir Roger Moore

Sir Sean Connery, said in a statement: “I was very sad to hear of Roger’s passing. We had an unusually long relationship by Hollywood standards that was filled with jokes and laughter, I will miss him.”

Sir Roger Moore and George Lazenby

George Lazenby, who starred in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, said: “I liked Roger, he was a genuine fellow, a really good guy.”

Timothy Dalton and Sir Roger Moore

Timothy Dalton who took over the role of 007 from Moore said: “I knew Roger as a kind and generous man. He was a wonderfully engaging and successful actor. My thoughts are with his family.”

Sir Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan, posted a message on his Facebook page: “Dear Sir Roger Moore. It is indeed with a heavy heart that I hear the news of your passing this morning. You were a big part of my life, from The Saint to James Bond… you were a magnificent James Bond and one that lead the way for me, the world will miss you and your unique sense of humor for years to come. My sincerest condolences to your family and children. RIP.”

Sir Roger Moore and Daniel Craig Daniel Craig shared a photograph poignantly captioned: “Nobody Does it Better - Love Daniel.”


See also: Leave them wanting Moore

Roger Moore FACT FILE