Roger Moore (14 October 1927 – 23 May 2017)
Looking back over Roger Moore’s career, it’s tempting to wonder just how it would have continued if the role of a certain British spy hadn’t come along in 1972. Up until then, Moore’s movie career had been occasional and not very successful, with early try-outs with MGM and Warner Bros. doing little to further his career. As he said himself, “At MGM, RGM (Roger George Moore) was NBG (no bloody good).” In the early Sixties he made a couple of movies in Italy, but by then he’d already made important in-roads in the format that would stand him in good stead throughout the rest of the decade. Television gave Moore true recognition with featured roles in series such as Ivanhoe (1958-9), The Alaskans (1959-60), and Maverick (1959-61). But it was the role he played between 1962 and 1969, that of Leslie Charteris’s suave, sophisticated anti-hero, Simon Templar, in The Saint, that brought him international attention.
The early Seventies saw Moore team up with Tony Curtis for The Persuaders! (1971-72), and then Cubby Broccoli came calling with the offer to play James Bond. At this point, Moore’s career went into overdrive, and he became a worldwide star. His interpretation of Bond has had its detractors over the years, but there has always been the sense that the producers of the series adapted the role to suit Moore’s abilities rather than the other way round. He remained in the role for twelve years and made seven appearances, and though each entry was successful there was a recognisable falling off of quality, and sometimes, Moore looked tired. In between saving the world, Moore made a number of action movies during the Seventies that cemented his position as an international star and celebrity, and if some of those movies attracted controversy (such as the trio he made in South Africa), Moore stayed clear of all the fuss and bother and he remained popular in the eyes of the public.
Post-Bond, Moore’s movie career never maintained the heights he’d achieved throughout the Seventies and early Eighties, but by then he was in his sixties and it was perhaps inevitable that he would take on less work. The early Nineties saw him appear in a number of less than remarkable comedies, but he also began his tenure as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, work that was rewarded by his receiving a knighthood in 2003. In the last ten years his career had gravitated to voice roles, and he made increasingly fewer public appearances. Moore was a charming man with an awareness of his limitations as an actor, and he was always quick to agree when anyone brought this up. The British satirical show Spitting Image (1988-91) included Moore in their roster of recurring puppets. In it, the writers had Moore respond to a director’s call for “more emotion” by raising an eyebrow. Such was Moore’s lack of ego that he expanded on this, saying that as Bond he’d had three expressions: “right eyebrow raised, left eyebrow raised, and eyebrows crossed when grabbed by Jaws”. Just for his personality and his sense of fun alone he’ll be missed, but as an actor who never really took things too seriously but still managed to entertain millions of moviegoers, he’ll be missed even more.
1 – Gold of the Seven Saints (1961)
2 – The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)
3 – Live and Let Die (1973)
4 – Shout at the Devil (1976)
5 – Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
6 – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
7 – The Wild Geese (1978)
8 – The Sea Wolves (1980)
9 – The Cannonball Run (1981)
10 – For Your Eyes Only (1981)