I became a James Bond fan in the 80s – mainly due to one man. Sir Roger George Moore who sadly passed away recently. Right here, I’d like to take a look at the legend, his life and career as I remember Roger Moore.
Born on 14 October 1927 in Stockwell, London – the only child to policeman George Alfred Moore and his Indian born mother, Lillian Pope. Roger Moore attended Battersea Grammar School, but as the Second World war broke out – the family was evacuated to Holsworthy, Devon where he was educated at Launceston College.
Moore had an apprenticeship at an animation studio – but was fired after making a mistake with one of the animation cells. Around the same time, his father was investigating a robbery that had been reported at the home of film director Brian Desmond Hurst – which in turn led to Moore being introduced to the director and eventually hired as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra from 1945. Hurst was so impressed with the young Roger Moore’s professionalism that he offered to pay Moore’s fees at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Moore spent three terms studying at RADA where, in a strange twist of fate, he met one of his fellow classmates for the first time – Lois Maxwell, who would go on to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.
When he turned 18, Moore was conscripted for national service at the end of WW II. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps on 21st September 1946 as a second lieutenant. Moore was an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment Section and eventually became a captain, commanding a small depot in West Germany.
Moore worked as a model through the early 1950s appearing in print adverts for knitwear and toothpaste.
In 1954, he singed a seven year contract with MGM and the movies he featured in were all disasters. In Moore’s own words…
“At MGM, RGM (Roger George Moore) was NBG [no bloody good].”
Appearing in the movies, Interrupted Melody, The King’s Thief and Diane – Moore’s MGM contract was cancelled due to the critical and commercial failures.
Moore starting making appearances in TV shows such as, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the TV series of The Third Man. He landed the lead role as Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe in the TV show, Ivanhoe (1958–1959). After which, he secured yet another lead TV role with The Alaskans (1959–1960) – where Moore played “Silky” Harris. But it was his casting as Beau Maverick for the TV series, Maverick (1960–1961) where Moore started to become recognised. Interestingly enough, a young Sean Connery tried out for the very same role role too.
From his role in Maverick, Moore was then cast as the lead role of the James Bond-esque Simon Templar in The Saint (1962–1969). A role that made Moore an international star on both sides of the Atlantic. Moore was then cast as Brett Sinclair alongside Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde in the TV show, The Persuaders! (1971–1972). The show was a flop in the US but successful in other territories including Europe and Australia.
Just around the corner was the pivotal role that would make Roger Moore a guaranteed superstar.
The James Bond Era
Interestingly enough, Moore had previously been considered for the role of James Bond several years earlier after his success with The Saint. It was around 1966 when Sean Connery declared he was retiring as James Bond and the producers of the successful franchise began looking at a replacement. Moore was too busy with his TV commitments – so he role went to George Lazenby in 1969 before Connery changed his mind (and his bank balance) and returned as James Bond in 1971s Diamonds Are Forever. Then when Connery stepped down for good, this was when Moore got to play James Bond for the first time in Live and Let Die… or so many people believe.
While the 1973 flick, Live and Let Die was Moore’s first cinematic outing as James Bond – he had previously played the role. In 1964, he made a guest appearance as a more humorous take on James Bond in the comedy series Mainly Millicent.
You can watch Moore’s very first James Bond performance right here.
Moore would go on to play Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. He was the oldest actor to play the role as Moore was 45 when he starred in Live and Let Die and 58 in his final Bond film, A View to a Kill.
Post Bond Career
During the Bond years, Moore made several film appearances including playing the role of an eccentric millionaire so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had plastic surgery to look like his hero in The Cannonball Run. Yes, Roger Moore played a character that looked and acted like Roger Moore… the casting was perfect.
Yet he didn’t act on screen for five years after retiring as James Bond. It was in 1990 when Moore returned to the screen with the TV show, My Riviera. He also appeared inThe Quest and the Spice Girls movie, Spice World. While the unfunny 2002 movie Boat Trip was critically panned – Moore’s role of an amorous homosexual was highly praised as he got to show off is more comedic talents.
In 2010, Moore voiced the bow-tie wearing, talking cat, Lazenby (get it?) in the family movie Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Which itself contained more than a handful of James Bond references, in-jokes and parodies. Even after all those years, he could not shake that James Bond persona.
He also has several films in post production waiting to be released in 2017 and 2018 including, Summer Night, Winter Moon, Astrid Silverlock and Troll Hunters.
He was one of the best. Charming, erudite and talented.
Roger Moore died in Switzerland after a brief battle with cancer on 23rd May 2017. He was 89 years old.
Some are blessed with musical ability, others with good looks. Myself, I was blessed with modesty.