Roger Moore, ambassador for UNICEF and successful actor best known as the third James Bond, has died, aged 89.
The usual thing to do in a sad situation such as this would be to write an obituary, but that seems a little impersonal for me. After all, to me this is a fairly personal loss; not because I knew him (I wish I had!), but because I am a huge Bond fan and so Roger Moore has always been an important figure for me in my life.
Here are the reasons I will miss him and why it’s such a shame we’ve lost him.
001 – The First
The first Bond film I saw wasn’t a Pierce Brosnan one, despite my age (most people my age grew up with Brosnan). Nor was it the original classic Connery Bonds that set the standard. No, my first Bond film was Octopussy – Roger Moore will always be my first Bond, and that’s a special thing for any Bond fan.
002 – The 00 Agent
Of course he’s best known as being James Bond. Although the third actor to play Bond, he was actually the oldest (3 years older than Sean Connery). He was also, believe it or not, the longest serving 00 agent to date, appearing in a grand total of 7 Bond films from 1973 to 1985 (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill).
It’s often thought that Moore may well have saved the franchise itself, after it had an iffy couple of turns with Connery having a somewhat bitter relationship with the producers Broccoli and Saltzman and Lazenby being less than popular (though his film is arguably one of the best). His Bond was his own unique version – as suave and sophisticated as the others, but more jokey, quippy and flirty – an inimitable incarnation.
003 – The Joker
In fact it’s this humour in Moore’s Bond that makes him stand out more than the others. His Bond retains all the quintessential qualities that makes Bond the character he is. But Moore took his incarnation a step further, bringing his own form of humour and injecting that into the role. Yes, Connery and Lazenby had quips as Bond before Moore came along, but theirs were rarely as commonplace or as funny as Moore’s.
This was reflected in his own personality. Moore famously never took himself seriously. He was a notorious prankster with his fellow cast members, be they Bond girls or, most interestingly, Desmond Llewelyn’s Q
004 – The Lover
Of course, as well as being the more comedic spy, Moore’s 007 was also more a lover, less or a fighter. His films were noticeably less violent. In fact his first appearance as Bond isn’t in the middle of an adrenaline-fuelled pre-credits scene – it’s him in bed with a girl, demonstrating his “pure magnetism, darling.” His charm as Bond has become a thing of legend, able to make many a lady (Bond girl or not) swoon.
005 – The War Hero
Born in 1927, Moore was just 12 when WWII broke out, yet when he was 18, shortly after the end of the war, he was conscripted for national service. He became part of the Royal Army Service Corps, starting as a second lieutenant before becoming captain, and was an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment Section of which he took command of a small depot in West Germany. So whilst not fighting, he certainly did his bit for the country in its time of need in the best way he could – by entertaining
006 – The Saint
Although he will always be best remembered as James Bond, Roger Moore was also famously Simon Templar in The Saint – way before he was ever Bond. The original Saint ran from 1962 to 1969, actually clashing with the beginning of the Bond films – fortunate for Connery since Moore was actually asked to be Bond first, yet had to turn it down due to his commitment to The Saint.
Of course this wasn’t a bad thing. Connery was excellent as Bond and Moore was excellent as Templar. In fact Simon Templar is very similar to Moore’s Bond – he famously played each character as himself, but it worked wonderfully.
Additionally, he wasn’t just a Saint on-screen – he was also ambassador for UNICEF (originally encouraged to do so by Audrey Hepburn). He went on over 20 missions and became a perfect role model for what people in his famous position could do to help others.
007 – The Star
Roger Moore soon came to be known as a reassuring presence on-screen. Suave, sophisticated, debonair – the quintessential English Gentleman, Roger Moore had a unique, powerful star persona that appealed to everyone.
Charming on-screen and off-screen, although he knew his limitations as an actor (even joking himself that as Bond his acting entailed raising either the right eyebrow or the left), he was a wonderful star, a loveable actor and we will miss him. So we raise a martini to you, Sir Roger, and, to quote that song by Scouting for Girls, we will miss you and that “eyebrow that you move.”