RIP, Sir Roger Moore

Sir Roger Moore has died in Switzerland at the age of 89.  His family shared the sad news with the world via Twitter.

Sir Roger G. Moore, KBE,  was best known for playing James Bond, Agent 007, in seven movies.  He will also be remembered for his work as Simon Templar on the TV show The Saint, as the British cousin, Beau Maverick, on Maverick, Lord Brett Sinclair on The Persuaders, and many other roles.

Sir Roger Moore, KBE, as the Duke of Castlebury in “A Princess for Christmas” [image via MediaPro Studios]

Sir Roger Moore, Philanthropist

Sir Roger’s knighthood came not from his acting career, but from his charity work.  Inspired by his friend Audrey Hepburn’s work for UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund, originally the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), Moore became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991.   He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 “for charitable services, especially to UNICEF and Kiwanis International,” becoming a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.  He had previously been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1999, also “for charitable services.”  Sir Roger said the knighthood “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.”

Her Majesty was not the only one to recognize Sir Roger Moore for his charity work.  He received an International Humanitarian Award from the London Variety Club in 2000.  Sir Roger was given  the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) by Germany in 2003, for his work with UNICEF, especially against child traffickers.  The United Nations granted him the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award in 2005 and the Dag Hammarskjöld Inspiration Award in 2008.

Early Life

Roger George Moore was born October 14, 1927, in London, England. His father, George Alfred Moore, was a police constable.  His mother, Lillian Pope Moore, was a homemaker.  He was their only child. During World War II he was evacuated from London to Devonshire.  When he returned to London, he got a job with the film company Publicity Picture Productions as an animation apprentice.  He worked as an extra in a few films in 1945 and 1946, making his film debut as a Roman soldier in Caesar and Cleopatra.  Irish director Brian Desmond Hurst was impressed with young Roger and paid the tuition for him to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).  In 1946, Roger Moore was conscripted for national service.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps.  As part of his duties in Germany, Lt. Moore looked after Combined Services Entertainment performers who came to entertain the troops.  He was promoted to captain before he returned to civilian life.

Roger Moore as Ivanhoe [image via ITV]

Also in 1946, Moore married fellow RADA  student Doorn van Steyn.  He became a model when he returned to England.  He also worked as a truck driver to make ends meet.  His acting career began slowly, with his first television appearance in 1949 as Bob Drew in The Governess.  He earned 23 guineas for the role.  In 1952 he met singer Dorothy Squires. He divorced Doorn van Steyn and married Squires in 1953. The newlyweds emigrated to the United States, where he was almost immediately cast in the television movie World by the Tail.   He signed a seven year contract with MGM in 1954, but few of the movies he performed in did well at the box office.  MGM released him from his contract after only two years.  He signed a contract with Warner Brothers, and spent the next few years doing TV guest roles.

TV

Roger Moore as Beau Maverick [image via Warner Bros.]

Roger Moore’s career began to pick up in the ’50s, as he starred in television shows as Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe in Ivanhoe, Silky Harris in The Alaskans, and Beauregarde Maverick in Maverick. His big break came when he was cast as Simon Templar in The Saint.  He starred as the debonair thief with a conscience in 118 episodes over a period of seven years.  Moore directed nine episodes of The Saint. In the ’70s he starred in the British show The Persuaders! as Lord Brett Sinclair, with Tony Curtis as his American partner, Danny Wilde.  Moore would not star in another TV show until the short-lived The Dream Team in 1999, where he played Desmond Heath.

Film

In 1973, Roger Moore took up the mantle of MI6 Agent James Bond in the movie Live and Let Die.  He continued in the part for seven movies spread out over a twelve year span.  Moore’s interpretation of Bond was less violent than Sean Connery’s; he was more likely to use a clever quip or one of Q’s gadgets than his fists or a gun.

  • Live and Let Die (1973)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
  • Moonraker (1979)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  • Octopussy (1983)
  • A View to a Kill (1985)

During and after his years as Bond, he appeared in numerous other movies:  ffolkes, The Wild Geese, Escape to Athena, Spice World, Dogs and Cats: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, The Sea Wolves, The Quest, The Enemy, and Fire, Ice, and Dynamite.  At the time of his death, he was doing the voice of Leif in Troll Hunters and the narrator in Astrid Silverlock (both due out in 2018).  It is unknown at this time whether or not Sir Roger had finished recording his parts.

Health

As he aged, Roger Moore suffered several health problems.  He survived prostrate cancer in 1993.  He collapsed on stage on Broadway in 2003 and had to have a pacemaker implanted the next day.  A bout of pneumonia in 2012 was so severe he required physical therapy to relearn how to walk. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2014, which forced him to give up drinking.   He required a hearing aid.  His last few roles were largely cameo appearances and voice work, as the stress of acting before the camera or on stage grew too much for him.  He died “after a short but brave battle with cancer.” The family has not yet revealed what sort of cancer took Sir Roger’s life.

Family

Roger Moore as Sherlock Holmes [image via 20th Century Fox]

Sir Roger more was married four times and divorced three times.  His first marriage to actress/ice skater  Doorn van Steyn lasted seven years.  He left her to marry singer Dorothy Squires, but the marriage was unhappy.  Dorothy hit him, frequently with her fists and once over the head with his own guitar.  She suffered several miscarriages, and Moore admitted things may have been very different had they been able to have children.  Moore and Squires separated in 1961, when he met Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, but they did not divorce until 1968.  He married Mattioli in 1969, and they had three children:  actress Deborah Moore, actor/director/restaurateur Geoffrey Moore, and producer Christian Moore.  Mattioli and Moore separated in 1993, when his friendship with Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup developed deeper feelings.  The pair divorced in 2000, and Moore married Tholstrup in 2002.

Sir Roger Moore on Acting

I was lucky to have come into the profession that I loved. I may not have been very good at it, but I loved it.”

I never worked hard. I enjoyed it. Going into an office or being a miner. That’s work.”

“I enjoy being a highly overpaid actor.”

“I have never been guilty of method acting or even acting if you want to argue a point.”

“When I was doing The Saint on television I had two expressions; as Bond I’ve managed to work up to four.”

“I would love to be remembered as one of the greatest Lears or Hamlets.  But, as that’s not going to happen, I’m quite happy I did Bond.”

Awards and Authorship

Roger Moore as Simon Templar in The Saint [image via ITC]

In addition to his knighthood for his charity work, Sir Roger Moore received numerous awards for his acting.  A few days before his 80th birthday, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The star is located (appropriately enough) at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.  A few months later the French government appointed him a commander in the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres).  He also received awards from Germany, Spain, France, Jamaica,  the USA, and Poland.

Sir Roger Moore was also an author.  He wrote or co-wrote four memoirs about his acting career:  Roger Moore as James Bond: Roger Moore’s Own Account of Filming Live and Let DieMy Word is My Bond: The Autobiography, , Bond on Bond: The Ultimate Book on 50 Years of Bond Movies, and One Lucky Bastard (US title)/Last One Standing (British title).

Because of the high taxes in England, since 1978 Sir Roger divided his time between Switzerland, Monaco, France, and Denmark.  Prince Albert II declared Sir Roger a Goodwill Ambassador of Monaco “for his efforts in internationally promoting and publicizing the principality.”

Sir Roger Moore , 1996 [image by Steve Granitz via WireImage.com]

Sir Roger Moore is survived by his wife, Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup, his children Geoffrey, Christian, and Deborah, and three granddaughters, Ambra, Mia, and Jessie.  He was pre-deceased by his stepdaughter Christina Knudsen.  Sir Roger George Moore, KBE, born October 14, 1927, died May 23, 2017.  Rest in peace.

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About Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book R is for Renaissance Faire, as well as short stories in Alternative Truths,  Swords and Sorceress #30, Supernatural Colorado, Barbarian Crowns, and Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid. Her articles have appeared on Krypton Radio’s website, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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