Roger Moore, James Bond Star, Dies at 89

Roger Moore Dead
Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

Roger Moore, the handsome English actor who appeared in seven films as James Bond — the most of any Bond actor — and as Simon Templar on “The Saint” TV series, has died in Switzerland after a short battle with cancer. He was 89.

His family issued an announcement on Twitter: “It is with the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.”

Moore appeared in more official Bond pics than his friend Sean Connery over a longer period of time, and while Connery’s fans were fiercely loyal, polls showed that many others favored Moore’s lighter, more humorous take on 007.

In 1972, Moore was asked to join Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He took on the mantle of 007 for 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” which would lead to six more turns as England’s top spy. In addition to reviving the franchise at the B.O. after waning prospects at the end of Connery’s run, the new James Bond relied on more humor in stories that cranked up the camp.


Roger Moore dead

Roger Moore’s Life and Career in Photos

Moore as Bond began to shake off the Connery comparisons and pick up speed after 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me” launched the series into super-blockbuster status, raking in $185.4 million worldwide. Next up, the outer space-traveling “Moonraker” (1979) cumed $202 million and 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only” took $194 million.

His next roles were in “Octopussy” (1983) and 1985’s “A View to a Kill,” in which he surrendered his license to kill.

The young actor came to the U.S. in 1953. MGM signed him to a contract and he received supporting work on several pictures. He played a tennis pro in 1954’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” with Elizabeth Taylor. The role was one of several in the ’50s that hinged on his tall, athletic good looks. He would often play royalty or military characters.

Moore had his first taste of smallscreen stardom from 1956-58 as the lead, Sir Winfred, in ITV’s “Ivanhoe.” While still drawing film roles, he would continue to star in TV programs, following “Ivanhoe” with short-lived ABC Western “The Alaskans” and replacing James Garner in “Maverick” in 1960-61 (Moore played British cousin Beau Maverick). By the time he arrived on “Maverick,” its popularity was waning, but Moore won over the cast and crew with his good humor and charm, on-set qualities for which the actor would be known throughout his career.

In 1962, Moore began playing one of the roles that would define his celebrity, dashing thief Simon Templar, who would steal from rich villains each week on “The Saint.” The show ran 118 episodes, transitioning from B&W to color and finally wrapping in 1969. The British skein initially ran in syndication in the States but was part of NBC’s primetime schedule from 1967-69.


Celebrities Who Died in 2017

Stories would feature exotic locales, beautiful women and plenty of action, elements shared with the bigscreen tales about a certain British spy of the era. Ironically, it was the “Saint” contract that prevented Moore from competing for the role of 007 when Sean Connery was cast in 1962’s “Dr. No.”

Moore returned to the big screen with a pair of forgettable thrillers in ’69 and ’70. Despite having sworn off TV, he was subsequently lured back for “The Persuaders.” The show, which featured Moore and Tony Curtis as millionaire playboy crime-fighters, ran only one season; it was successful in Europe but failed in its run on ABC in the U.S.

During his 13 years as 007, Moore landed feature roles in other action films, but none that would compete with the Bond franchise. Movies from that period include 1978’s “The Wild Geese,” with Richard Burton and Richard Harris, and 1980’s “ffolkes” with James Mason and David Hedison, who played CIA agent Felix Leiter in “Live and Let Die.”

The actor took great fun in skewering his slick image offscreen and on-, including appearances in “Cannonball Run” and TV’s “The Muppet Show,” in which he struck out with Miss Piggy; in the 2002 comedy “Boat Trip,” he played a flamboyant homosexual with some Bond-like elements, and in 2004 he lent his voice to animated short “The Fly Who Loved Me.”

He also occasionally appeared both on the big and small screen. He appeared in the Spice Girls feature “Spice World,” provided a voice for “The Saint” feature in 1997, appeared in an episode of “Alias” in 2003 and had a role in the 2013 telepic version of “The Saint” starring Eliza Dushku.

Moore did quite a bit of voice work in the 2000s in pics including “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” “Agent Crush,” “Gnomes and Trolls: The Forest Trial,” “De vilde svaner” and 2010’s “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” whose title was an allusion to Bond girl Pussy Galore of “Goldfinger”; his “Cats and Dogs” character was Tab Lazenby.

He became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1991 and had been an active advocate for children’s causes. In 1999, he was honored by the British government with the title Commander of the British Empire.

Moore was born in Stockwell, South London. Despite health problems, Moore excelled at school and took an early interest in art and drawing. His grammar school education was interrupted by the start of WWII; he and his mother spent most of the war in Amersham, 25 miles outside of London.

In 1943, Moore decided to leave school and pursue work in animation at Publicity Pictures Prods., where he was a junior trainee in cartooning. But mishandling of some celluloid brought a swift conclusion to that career path.

Moore began his long acting career during the summer of 1944, when a friend recommended that he seek work as an extra on the film “Caesar and Cleopatra,” which brought Moore a walk-on role and the attention of co-director Brian Desmond Hurst, who was impressed with the looks of the tall, thin young man and secured him extra parts in two subsequent pics. With the support of Hurst, Moore auditioned for and was admitted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In 1945, Moore was called up for national service and, after basic training, was recommended for the Intelligence Corps. “The only reason they commissioned me was I looked good in a uniform,” Moore joked of his military career.

The actor’s autobiography, “My Word Is My Bond,” was published in 2008; his other books include memoir “One Lucky Bastard” and “Bond on Bond.” In recent years he toured with a popular one-man show, “An Evening With Roger Moore.”

Moore was married to skater Doorn Van Steyn, singer Dorothy Squires, Italian actress Luisa Mattioli and finally to Danish-Swedish multimillionaire Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup. He is survived by Tholstrup; a daughter, actress Deborah Moore; and two sons, Geoffrey Moore, an actor, and Christian Moore, a film producer.

Golden Globe-nominated actor Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in four films from 1995-2002.

Roger Moore’s Life and Career in Photos

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 43

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Sir Roger Moore will leave an indelible imprint on the film world. He was a superb James Bond and a true gentleman.

  2. Variety has it wrong. Moore and Connery have an equal amount of performances as James Bond 007. Connery’s films are listed below:

    1. Dr. No (1962)
    2. From Russia With Love (1963)
    3. Goldfinger (1964)
    4. Thunderball (1965)
    5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
    6. Diamonds are Forever (1971)
    7. Never Say Never Again (1982)

    Roger Moore’s biography was well written, I only wish the author had double-checked the facts. IMDB and related sources are easy to access so there’s no excuse.

  3. 007 says:

    Sorry fans, Timothy Dalton is my #1 James Bond actor. And he was also Bond when I was born, 1986 that is!

  4. Spider says:

    The first James Bond I was introduced to. Sir Roger Moore epitomized the quintessential suave, debonair, and bad-ass ladies’ man that I wanted to be when I grew up! May you rest in peace, sir… With respect to Sir Sean Connery (who was a kick-ass Bond), Roger Moore was always the Bond that came to mind when deciding who was the best one. He is also synonymous with Duran Duran’s title track, “A View to a KIll”……Also, playing the part of ‘Lord Dobbs’ in Jean-Claude Van Damme’s, “The Quest”(1996) was pure gold. His legacy will live on. I extend my deepest condolences to Mr. Moore’s family! May you rest in peace, good sir!

  5. Samerica says:

    The best Bond and just a great actor and person. As a kid watching reruns of The Saint and Maverick
    I became a fan. I always liked most of his movies especially The Man who Haunted Himself is a
    real mystery classic. But my favorite and I watch once a week is his TV show The Persauders with
    Tony Curtis. As a kid I only saw a few episodes and then it was cancelled by ABC! SOBS! I was
    thrilled when it was released on DVD. If you haven’t seen it check it out! RIP Sir Roger Moore.

  6. So very sad. Nobody did it better. Rest in peace x

  7. none says:

    May God carry him home, RIP 007, best wishes and prayers to his family.

  8. Karen McLachlan says:

    I loved Roger and Tony in the Persuaders. Loved your Bond movies. Rest in Peace 😥

  9. Richard Eden says:

    Thank you for Bond, Sir Moore and of course cheeky Simon Templar

  10. Dave J says:

    Loved him as “The Saint” as much as I as him playing James Bond.

  11. Roger Moore as James Bond depends upon what era you were in when first introduced to the Ian Fleming character. His “greatness” as 007 is qualified but his eminence as an actor is unquestionable.

  12. How sad..he was an awesome actor!

  13. Alex says:

    R.I.P. Moore…Rodger Moore

  14. Christina Stuehrenberg says:

    The most charismatic Bond EVER. Sad day. R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore.

  15. George Lewis says:

    Sir Roger Moore rest in peace.

  16. Bill B. says:

    Sure did have a long and successful career for being a man with such slim talent. The weakest of the Bonds, but even those are better than the vast majority of his other films. I don’t think he was ever in a truly great move. Seemed like a nice guy though. Humble, down to earth and quite realistic about himself.

  17. cg says:

    I loved him as 007. I just watched a couple of his movies on STARZ

  18. Kelly Grace says:

    Rodger u were a ledgend sadly missed ripy freind

  19. Tina says:

    he was greatest james bond of all times.

  20. I remember him in a role, playing a young king of England, with Lana Turner and Marisa Pagan. I knew he would hit it BIG eventually……he was very underrated…loved him…sorry to hear he has now become an angel….

  21. Marlee Nicholas/ David Carter says:

    I’m sorry that your Father died–he was a great actor. I will always miss him because I grew up watching him and thought he was the greatest thing on earth. Nobody will ever replace him. May he rest is peace.

  22. John says:

    The down slope alpine ski shootout from “The Spy Who Loved Me” is still the best opening scene of all Bond movies. With the prefect top of from Carly Simon’s theme song.

  23. R.I.P. Mr. Moore. Your films shaped my life.

  24. Carol Stout says:

    R.I.P. You were and Sean Connery were both very good at doing James Bond. I really can’t say which one of you was my favorite James Bond since you were both so good. I also liked you in the Maverick series. My condolences to your family.

  25. Zoran says:

    Rest in peace. Thanks for your work.

  26. Eleanor Hansen says:

    Rest In Peace. You will be missed, not just by a few but throughout the world. I have been a fan since your The Saint series. Prayers for your family. I know you rest with the Lord.

  27. Bubba Usry says:

    if you do not know your James Bond movies please do not write articles about them. Timothy Dalton surrendered his license to Kill in the James Bond movie License to Kill. It was not Roger Moore in A View to a Kill.

    • RS says:

      It’s referring to the fact that Moore GAVE UP THE ROLE after A View To A Kill. It wasn’t a reference to the character, although it could’ve been better worded. I suspect a more fitting obit is forthcoming.

    • abritch says:

      In the article its a play on words. he surrendered his license to kill with AVTAK means he gave up the role, it was his last 007 film. It doesn’t refer to the plot of the film LTK. you may know 007 history, but might want to brush up on your English before slamming the author.

  28. Ben Berry says:

    Moore was always a class act!

  29. he was james least the first i remember seeing..when i think of that character his voice comes roger moore,,btw boat trip was hilarious!

  30. A fine man, a likable and highly professional and proficient actor, see him a lot now on the old Maverick shows. Recall him most though from the Alaskans shows, I wonder why those are not airing on the cable networks. He will be missed. Condolences to family, sincerely.

  31. Scott MacDonough says:

    While I was working in the New York publicity department of MGM/UA in 1983, I had the great honor of spending a week with Roger Moore (of whom I’d been a longtime fan), escorting him from one interview to another as he promoted “Octopussy”. A true gentleman in the finest sense of the word, he turned out to be exceptionally intelligent, compassionate, modest and absolutely hilarious (with a fondness for reciting bawdy British limericks which sounded like pure poetry when delivered by such an elegant, classy man). Everyone who met him adored him, and I doubt we’ll ever see the likes of him again. I miss him already.

  32. wishinwell says:

    Sad to hear, remember him mainly from tv show “The Saint” (I was a pre-teen then), and then “Bond” and pulled that off quite successfully after Connery- Condolences to his family.

  33. Sue Budd says:

    Good night, sweet prince, Sir Roger Moore, you are my Bond!

  34. rostandreads says:

    So sorry to hear this. Have been an admirer of Sir Moore since I was a kid. God bless his family with peace at this time.

  35. Another Poster says:

    Rip “Saint” Roger Moore. In 1973, Liv Ullman and him were given the responsibility of handing out the Academy Award for Best Actor. Marlon Brando won for The Godfather, however, he sent an Native-American woman to protest the film industry treatment of Native Americans. Roger Moore was left holding the award, which had a long journey back to the Academy Awards.

  36. My sincere condolences to his family. Thanks for many entertaining hours in the cinema and in front of the tv. I think the thing he was most proud of was his work with UNICEF, and rightly so.

  37. SlickRick says:

    Thank you, Sir Roger. Not only a great Bond but a humanitarian and a gent. You will be missed.

    • Joseph C. Arnone Jr. says:

      Also sends my condolences to the family. As an avid movie goer He will be deeply missed.

  38. Mark says:

    So sad. My favorite Bond.

More Film News from Variety