Renaissance man and former star of the James Bond series Roger Moore died Tuesday, May 22 in Switzerland.
Moore’s first noteworthy mark on American pop culture started on the American/British syndicated television series “The Saint.” From there he would find himself in one of Hollywood’s most coveted roles: MI6 agent and super spy James Bond. “Live and Let Die,” his first film as Bond, launched him into global stardom.
Born in 1927 in South London, Moore’s first foray into the entertainment industry was during his teen years, working at the animation company Publicity Picture Productions. One of Publicity Picture’s directors encouraged Moore to pursue acting, so he dabbled in theater work before going to the Royal Academy of Art to further develop his skills. Moore’s acting career came to a halt because of World War II’s draft. He ended up in the Royal Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant, but he proceeded to pursue theater and film work immediately after his time in service.
While today’s theatergoers rave about the gritty realism and cool detachment of Daniel Craig’s bond, Moore’s turn as 007 saw him introduce an element of fun and fantasy to the legendary secret agent. Generation X required diversification, and Moore answered their needs with his humor and unique modesty.
Moore started his seven-film-long Bond career older than his predecessors, at age 44, but he was still a charmer with boyish looks. His resume encompassed a confection of American, British, and other European films that suited his personality and timespan playing Bond. His unique persona and eclectic background represented the diverse pop culture trends from the 1970s to the 1980s shown in that generation’s Bond films.
“For 50 years [Bond’s] gone on and people go back because it’s an old friend,” he said in an interview with Time Magazine. Moore saw the Bond series’ potential in accuracy that’s almost frightening. “Their fathers may have taken them to see it the first time, and then they take their grandfathers. And Christmas never seems to be Christmas without a Bond movie showing on a television screen somewhere,” he finished. Judging by global box office success of the most recent Bond film, Spectre, and the success of its forerunner, Skyfall, James Bond will live on.
Moore’s talents went beyond the stage. In the 1990s, he dedicated much of his time to activism.
As goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund, Moore raised almost a billion dollars. He advocated for children’s issue and spread awareness for multiple other issues. These included HIV/AIDS, iodine deficiency, and landmine injury issue-awareness. In the late ’90s, Moore was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and, in 2003, was knighted for his work as an ambassador.
In another interview with Time Magazine in 1973, Moore expressed sincere gratitude and self-awareness in his honest modesty. “I often stop in the middle of a day’s work and say: ‘Jesus Christ, they’re really going to pay you for being a kid and living out your fantasies!’” said Moore.
After four marriages and three children, Moore settled down with Kristian Tholstrup, a Danish socialite. The two married in 2002 after dating throughout the 1990s. In his book “My Word is My Bond,” Moore described their marriage as one of his best life decisions that he ever made.
After a long cross-continental and interdisciplinary career, Moore passed away at age 89 from cancer. His loved ones described his last days ending as a Hollywood dream. They explained, “The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone,” according to a press statement released by his family on Twitter.