Sir Roger Moore, the suave English actor best known for playing James Bond and Simon Templar in The Saint TV series, has died at age 89 in Switzerland.
His family announced the news on Tuesday on Twitter saying: “he passed away today…after a short but brave battle with cancer.”
Moore was best known for playing the third incarnation of the famous 007 spy in seven Bond films released between 1973 and 1985 including Live And Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me. He starred in more James Bond films than any other actor to date, bringing a fresh wit to the sophisticated MI5 spy.
Born in London in 1927, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts where he was a classmate of future co-star Lois Maxwell, who played the original Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films.
After working as a model in the early 1950s, Moore signed a seven-year contract with MGM where he starred in small movies such as Interrupted Melody and The King’s Thief. But it was his roles in television that soon brought him success.
He starred in ITV’s romantic adventure Ivanhoe from 1956-1958 before featuring in ABC Western The Alaskans and Maverick. After he starred in hit crime shows such as The Saint, which ran for 118 episodes, as well as The Persuaders, Hollywood began to take note of the charming and witty actor.
Bond producer Albert Broccoli offered Moore the role of 007 in 1972 and he wrote in his autobiography that he had to lose weight and cut his hair before starring in the franchise for more than 13 years.
The third Bond actor to hit the big screen, after Sean Connery and George Lazenby, Moore starred as the 007 agent in Live And Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1971), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View To A Kill (1985).
“Anyone watching could sense that Moore’s Bond cared more about the gadgets and the girls than the mission,” the Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz once wrote. “Moore seemed to know that trying to control the mission was futile. You just had to go with it and smile.”
During his tenure as Bond, he starred in other features such as The Wild Geese with Richard Burton and Richard Harris as well as The Cannonball Run with Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett, but none were ever as successful as Bond.
“Being eternally known as Bond has no downside,” Moore said in The Guardian. “People often call me ‘Mr. Bond’ when we’re out and I don’t mind a bit. Why would I?”
After passing the reins to Timothy Dalton, Moore took a hiatus from acting and didn’t make another film until 1990, when he starred in Fire, Ice & Dynamite and Bullseye!. His acting roles became more sparse throughout the rest of his career: In 1997, he had a brief role in the Spice Girls film Spice World and in 2013 he had a role in the reboot TV version of The Saint with Eliza Dushku.
Moore was dedicated to his work for UNICEF after Audrey Hepburn introduced him to the charity. He became a Goodwill Ambassador in 1991 and since then has become known as much for his work for children’s rights as his acting.
“The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified with words alone,” said his family’s statement Tuesday. “We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF.”
Moore is survived by his wife Kristina Tholstrup and three children.
A private funeral will be held in Monaco.
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