Sir Roger Moore, a British actor well known for his portrayal of “James Bond”, passed away on Tuesday, May 23 at the age of 89 after a battle with an unspecified cancer. More than just an actor, Moore was a humanitarian and a much-decorated charitable giver during his time. With the announcement of his passing I decided to take a look at the career and success of Moore since his acting career began in 1945.
Moore is well known to many for one major role in film, the part of James Bond, which he took over from the original Bond, Sean Connery, in 1972. Moore made his debut as 007 in “Live and Let Die” and appeared in six other Bond films, “The Man With The Golden Gun”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “Moonraker”, “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy”, and “A View to a Kill”. He is the oldest actor to have ever played bond, being 45 when he took the role, and gave up the part in 1985 in his late 50s. While Sean Connery was essential to the iconic nature of Bond, it was Moore who created the suave, humorous, and sarcastic spy we all know and love today. However, many don’t know Bond was only a part of Moore’s extensive, and impressive, career as a worldwide celebrity.
Moore started his career in commercials in the mid-1940s and by 1954 he had signed a seven-picture deal with MGM, which didn’t lead to success. He followed that up with a deal with Warner Bros where he saw a bit more success, but still needed that “star-making” role. It wasn’t until 1958 that Moore found his footing on television, first appearing at the lead in “Ivanhoe”. He would follow up that series with “The Alaskans” and Maverick” in the first years of the 60s and in 1962 he landed one of his most iconic roles as Simon Templar in “The Saint”, which ran until 1969. It was the longest running series of its kind in Britain, tied with “The Avengers”.
Moore attempted to get back into big-screen films after “The Saint”, but couldn’t find stability. He continued his television career in 1971, joining Tony Curtis to star in “The Persuaders!” which failed to gain steam at the time in America, but found foreign market success and has since become a cult classic television program. In 1973 Moore’s career-making part would come to him and he would join the “James Bond” franchise.
According to rumors, and comments from producers and Moore himself, the irony of him landing the part of James Bond was that he was apparently originally considered for the role, but was busy with “The Saint” at the time. Moore himself had joked that his role in “The Saint” was meant for Sean Connery, who got the role of James Bond when Moore was unavailable, although there seems to be no conformation of this fact and may have just been a joke from Moore. Moore’s career took off after he became Bond. He starred in 13 other features outside of the franchise, including “Curse of the Pink Panther” and “The Cannonball Run”, up until he surrendered the role of Bond in 1986 and went on a five-year hiatus from acting.
Moore’s post-Bond career was not the most impressive as he settled for bit parts and more cameo-style roles in the 1990s and early 2000s. He played the role of Chief in the Spice Girls-centered film “Spice World” and a homosexual man in 2002’s “Boat Trip” as one of the few critically acclaimed aspects of that film. In 2010 he appeared in his first voice-over role as Lazenby in “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”. His final recorded film role was in 2011’s “A Princess for Christmas”
Outside of acting Moore was a well-known humanitarian and philanthropist. Moore was close friends with Audrey Hepburn and followed her lead in becoming involved with UNICEF, becoming the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. He became involved with the production of videos for animal rights group PETA and fought a successful campaign against the wholesale and production of foie gras, the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened usually through means of force feeding.
In 1999 Moore was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire and promoted to Knight Commander of the same Order in 2003, both for his charity work. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007 and the following year the French appointed him Commander of the Ordre des Arts er des Lettres. In 2012 he receive an honorary doctorate fro the University of Hertfordshire for his work in British television and film. He also receive numerous awards for his work with UNICEF, including the German Federal Cross of Merit, UNICEF’s Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award, and the Dag Hammerskold Inspiration Award. For all his accomplishment, Moore was never honored with a nomination for a Golden Globe or an Oscar.
Sir Roger Moore may never be seen as one of the greatest actors of even his time, but his career is not without merit. He was a generous humanitarian of a man, even if he stirred up a bit of controversy for his conservative views and his “tax exile” he implemented upon himself at one point in his life. But this is not an article to comment on his more controversial or private life. This is a celebration of his career accomplishments and as a British icon and a man who defined the suave and iconic persona of film’s most famous spy, Roger Moore will live on in the hearts of many as THE James Bond. To you Agent 007 I say…rest in peace.