Charming, debonair, one of the UK’s best loved actors and a huge international star with over 50 major movies to his credit, Sir Roger Moore has passed away at the age of 89. Never one to take himself too seriously Sir Roger once said ‘I spent my early years as a struggling actor. Nowadays I just struggle to act.’ Regardless of popular opinion, Roger was clearly the greatest Bond, simply because he was the one that had to do the most work. He was bond when the films were based on a world where Britain was still a superpower, where spies routinely used parachutes emblazoned with their own national flags, and where the summit of all human achievement was based on a man’s ability to smoke cigars and make a succession of barbed quips. Roger delivered the quips like no other. My personal favourite? While holding a gun to a villain’s crotch. ‘Speak now or forever hold your piece.
By the action films of the 1980s — with quips taken to their logical extreme by Arnold Schwarzenegger in films like Commando. (You may recall Arnie as ‘John Matrix’ killing a fat man in a chainmail wife-beater with a hot air pipe and then telling his corpse to “let off some steam…”) But Roger was the best, and it’s this — plus his effortless eye-brow hiking, and general swagger — that makes him Bond. Whether he’s wandering through a desert in full evening dress or clambering over a wall in a fawn safari suit and brown loafers, there’s never a hair out of place. Like the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels, whatever happens, Moore’s hair is unmoved. On those rare occasions that Moore did sustain an injury, it was only ever of the ‘hero cut’ variety — perhaps a small line of blood emanating from the corner of his mouth – and, even then, there’s usually a blonde with a bubble perm and a velour swimsuit ready to kiss it better in time for the next scene.
Perhaps most telling about Moore’s tenure as Bond is the line in The Man with the Golden Gun, when Roger looks genuinely flabbergasted by M, his boss, explaining that they have found a golden bullet with ‘007’ etched on to it. Roger pleads ignorance.
Bond: “Who would want to kill me?”
M: “Jealous husbands? Outraged chefs? Humiliated tailors? The list is endless…”
But it wasn’t just within the realm of Bond that Roger Moore was a hero. He was good friends with Audrey Hepburn, and it was she who inspired Moore to become a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador in 1991 after he saw her impressive work with the charity. He was the voice of Father Christmas in the 2004 UNICEF cartoon The Fly Who Loved Me and he also became involved with PETA, working with them on a video protesting against the production and wholesale of foie gras. In his time as an ambassador he travelled the world to see UNICEF’s work in action, advocating specifically for children’s rights in countries including Brazil, Mexico and Ethiopia to highlight the impact of donations made. Knighted for his services in 2003, he said at the time that it meant ‘far more to me than if I had got it for acting… I was proud because I received it on behalf of UNICEF as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years’.
Rest in Peace Roger Moore.