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Sir Roger George Moore KBE (born 14 October 1927) is an English actor and film producer, perhaps best known for portraying British secret agent James Bond in seven films from 1973 to 1985.

Early life

Moore was born in Stockwellmarker, London (sometimes referred to by Moore in interviews as Saint Ockwell). The only child of George Moore, a policeman, and Lillian "Lily" (née Pope), a housewife, he attended Battersea Grammar Schoolmarker, but was evacuated to Holsworthy, Devonmarker during World War II and was then educated at Dr Challoner's Grammar Schoolmarker. He then attended the College of the Venerable Bedemarker at the University of Durhammarker but never graduated. Upon turning 18, shortly after the end of the war, Moore was conscripted for National Service. He was commissioned as an officer and eventually became a Captain. In his usual self-deprecating style, he claimed that his commission was because he physically fitted the stereotype of an officer, rather than having any outstanding ability or leadership skills. Moore served in the Royal Army Service Corps, commanding a small depot in West Germany. He later transferred to the entertainment branch (under luminaries such as Spike Milligan), and immediately prior to his National Service, there was a brief stint at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), during which his fees were paid by film director Brian Desmond Hurst, who also used Moore as an extra in his film Trottie True. Moore was a classmate at RADA with his future Bond colleague Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny. The young Moore first appeared in films during the mid to late-1940s, as an extra. Moore's film idol as a child was Stewart Granger. As a 17 year old, Moore appeared as an extra in the film Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), finally meeting his idol on the set. Moore later worked with Granger in The Wild Geese.

Career

Roger Moore

Early work (1946–1959)

In the early 1950s, Moore worked as a male model, appearing in print advertisements for knitwear (earning him the amusing nickname "The Big Knit"), and a wide range of other products such as toothpaste an element that many critics have used as typifying his lightweight credentials as an actor. His earliest known television appearance was on 27 May 1950, in Drawing Room Detective, a one-off programme. Presented by veteran BBC announcer Leslie Mitchell, it invited viewers at home to spot clues to a crime during a playlet, whose actors also included Alec Ross (first husband of Sheila Hancock) and Michael Ripper. Barring interviews, Moore has not worked for BBC television since.

Although Moore won a contract with MGM in the 1950s, the films which followed were not a success and, in his own words, "At MGM, RGM (Roger George Moore) was NBG [no bloody good]." His starring role in The Miracle, a version of the play Das Mirakel for Warner Bros., had been turned down by Dirk Bogarde.

Eventually, it was television in which Moore made his name. He was the eponymous hero in the serial Ivanhoe, a very loose adaptation of the romantic novel by Sir Walter Scott, and he also appeared in the series The Alaskans, as well as playing Beau Maverick, an English cousin of frontier gambler Bret Maverick (James Garner) in Maverick.

The Saint (1960–1969)

Worldwide fame arrived after Lew Grade cast Moore as Simon Templar in a new adaptation of The Saint, based on the novels by Leslie Charteris. Moore said in an interview, during 1963, that he wanted to buy the rights of Leslie Charteris's character and the trademarks, but didn't have enough money. He also joked that the role was supposed to have been meant for Sean Connery who was unavailable. The television series was made in the UK with an eye on the American market, and its success there (and in other countries) made Moore a household name - and in spring 1967 he eventually had reached the level of an international top star. It also established his suave, quipping style which he would carry forward to James Bond. Moore would also go on to direct several episodes of the later series, which moved into colour in 1967.

The Saint ran from 1961 for six seasons and 118 episodes, making it (in a tie with The Avengers) the longest-running series of its kind on British television. However, Moore grew increasingly tired of the role, and was keen to branch out. He made two films immediately after the series had ended: Crossplot, a lightweight 'spy caper' movie, and the more challenging The Man Who Haunted Himself (1971). Directed by Basil Dearden, it gave Moore the opportunity to demonstrate a wider versatility than the role of Simon Templar had allowed, although reviews at the time were lukewarm, and both did little business at the box office. Despite the initial reviews The Man Who Haunted Himself is now considered a very under-rated film and the role is considered one of Moore's finest performances among his fans.

After The Saint (1969–1973)

Television lured Moore back to star, alongside Tony Curtis, in what has become another cult series, The Persuaders!. It featured the adventures of two millionaire playboys across Europe. It was for this series that Moore was paid the then unheard-of sum of £1 million for a single series, making him the highest paid television actor in the world. However, Lew Grade claimed in his autobiography Still Dancing, that Moore and Curtis "didn't hit it off all that well". Curtis refused to spend more time on set than was strictly necessary, while Moore was always willing to work overtime.

The series failed in America, where it had been pre-sold to ABC, but it was successful in Australia and in Europe. In Germany, where the series was aired under the name Die Zwei, it became a hit through a special funny dubbing that only barely used the original translations of the dialogs. And in Britain it was also popular, although on its premiere on the ITV network, it was beaten in the ratings by repeats of Monty Python's Flying Circus on BBC1. When Channel 4 repeated both The Avengers and The Persuaders! in 1995, it was generally agreed that the latter, which had not been seen for many years, had not aged as well as the former. It has not been seen on any of the five main UK terrestrial channels since.

Since then, The Persuaders! has enjoyed something of a renaissance both on television and DVD, with the 'rivals' Moore and Curtis reuniting to provide commentaries on the most recent issues. In France, where the series (entitled Amicalement Vôtre) had always been popular, the DVD releases accompanied a monthly magazine of the same name.

James Bond (1973–1985)

There are many apocryphal stories as to when Moore's name was first dropped as a possible candidate for the role of James Bond. Some sources, specifically Albert R. Broccoli from his autobiography When The Snow Melts, claim that Moore was considered for Dr. No, and that he was Ian Fleming's favorite for the role after apparently having seen Moore as Simon Templar in The Saint; however, the series did not begin airing in the United Kingdom until 4 October 1962 one day before the premiere of Dr. No, although it's possible that the show began filming before or around the film.

Other sources, such as the commentary for the special edition DVDs, claim that Moore was passed over for Bond in favour of someone who was older. As Moore is older than Sean Connery, this is probably not true. Publicly, Moore was not linked to the role of 007 until 1967, when Harry Saltzman claimed he would make a good Bond, but also displayed misgivings owing to his popularity as Simon Templar. Nevertheless, Moore was finally cast as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).

Roger Moore's twelve years as James Bond earned him enough popularity (and credibility) among fans of detective fiction to earn many Bond fans' acceptance, despite the inevitable comparisons to Connery. Moore played Bond in Live and Let Die (1973); The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); Moonraker (1979); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985).

To date, Moore is the longest-serving James Bond actor, having spent twelve years in the role (from his debut in 1973, to his retirement from the role in 1985), and made seven official films. (Connery also made seven, but his last Bond film, Never Say Never Again (1983), was not part of the "official" EON Productions series). He is also the oldest actor to play Bond: he was 45 when he debuted, and 58 when he announced his retirement on 3 December 1985. It was agreed by all involved that Moore was too old for the role by that point; he had actually tried to leave the role after For Your Eyes Only.

Moore's James Bond was light-hearted, more so than any other official actor to portray the character. Connery's style, even in its lighter moments, was that of a focused, determined agent. Moore often portrayed 007 as somewhat of a playboy, with tongue firmly in cheek, but also as a very capable and seasoned detective. The humour served Moore and his fans well through most of his Bond tenure.

Although often considered a 'lightweight', owing to never having had a significant stage career or having appeared in serious dramas, Moore can boast a dramatic education at RADA, the prestigious London drama college. However, Moore only attended for six months in 1945. In 2004, Moore was voted 'Best Bond' in a poll and won with a large 62% of votes whilst in late 2008, he also topped another poll on moviefans.com beating new Bond star Daniel Craig with 56% of votes.

It is often overlooked that during Moore's Bond period he starred in 13 other films, including the successful thriller Gold (1974) and even played Chief Inspector Clouseau in Curse of the Pink Panther (1983). However, most of these films were not critically acclaimed. Moore was widely criticized for making three movies in South Africa under the Apartheid regime during the 1970s.

Post-James Bond career (1985–present)

His post-Bond acting career has been light. In the words of his friend Michael Caine, with whom he co-starred in the unsuccessful Bullseye! (1990), "Now he can't get a job." At the age of 74, Moore was given the chance to go against type with his portrayal of a flamboyant homosexual (with James Bond characteristics) in Boat Trip (2002).

In a commercial for London's 2012 Olympic bidmarker, Moore once again suited up as James Bond. He appeared alongside Samantha Bond, who played Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films during the Pierce Brosnan era. He still appears regularly on chat shows, chiefly to promote the work of UNICEF.

In an article in The Sunday Telegraph magazine in April 2009, Moore confirmed that he has completely retired from acting.

In 2009 Moore appeared in an advert for the Post Office.

Humanitarian work

In 1983, his life changed when filming his sixth film as James Bond in India. Shocked at the poverty in India, he became interested in the Third World humanitarian effort. His friend Audrey Hepburn had impressed him with her work for UNICEF, and consequently he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. He was the voice of 'Santa' in the UNICEF cartoon The Fly Who Loved Me.

Moore was involved in the production of a video for PETA that protests against the production and wholesale of foie gras. Moore narrates the video. His assistance in this situation, and being a strong spokesperson against foie gras, has led to the department store Selfridges agreeing to remove foie gras from their shelves.

Personal life

Moore left his first wife, skater Doorn Van Steyn, for singer Dorothy Squires, who was several years his senior but was, at that time, considerably more famous than he was, and they lived together for a short time in Dafen, Llanellimarker, South Walesmarker. In turn, while filming in Italy in 1961, he abandoned Squires (who sued him for attempted reinstatement of conjugal rights) for Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. He lived with Mattioli until their marriage in 1969, after Squires finally granted Moore a divorce. Moore has a daughter and two sons with Mattioli; his son Geoffrey Moore is also an actor and owns a restaurant in London. Daughter Deborah Moore made a guest appearance as a flight attendant in Die Another Day. Again, he unexpectedly ended this marriage in 1993, later marrying former Cote d'Azurmarker neighbour, the Danish-Swedish multi-millionaire Kristina 'Kiki' Tholstrup.

Moore lived in Royal Tunbridge Wellsmarker for a period after early success in The Saint, and then moved to Surreymarker before relocating to Hollywoodmarker. During filming of The Spy Who Loved Me "villain" Curd Jürgens made the offer to Moore to spend some time at his home in Gstaadmarker, which Moore enjoyed having taken up skiing. When he married Kiki Tholstrup, he set up a routine of spending winters in Gstaad, and summer at his apartment in Monacomarker. After 15 years in Gstaad, he now resides in the winter at his chalet in Crans-Montanamarker, Valaismarker.

Royal Circles

Moore has a friendship with some of the Danish royals; Prince Joachim and his then-wife Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg invited him and his wife Kiki to attend the christening of their youngest son, Prince Felix.

On 24 May 2008 he and his wife attended the wedding of Prince Joachim and his French fiancée Marie Cavallier. He is also known to be a friend of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Swedenmarker.

Honours

In 1999, Moore was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on 14 June 2003. The citation on the knighthood was for Moore's charity work, which has dominated his public life for more than a decade. In perhaps his final riposte to the critics, Moore said that the citation "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".

On 11 October 2007, (3 days before he turned 80), Moore was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker for his work on television and in film. Attending the ceremony were family, friends, and Richard Kiel, whom he had acted with in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Moore's Star was the 2,350th star installed, and is appropriately located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.

Awards

For his charity work
  • 2008: Dag Hammarskjöld Medal (from the UN)
  • 2005: UNICEF Snowflake Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award
  • 2003: German Federal Service Cross: for his work battling child traffickers as special representative to UNICEF
  • 2003: Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • 1999: Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Lifetime achievements awards
  • 2008: Commander of the National Order of Arts and Letters (France)
  • 2007: Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • 2002: Monte Carlo TV Festival (Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • 2001: Lifetime achievement award (Filmfestival, Jamaica)
  • 1997: Palm Springs film festival, USA, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1995: TELE GATTO (Italian TV; Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • 1991: GOLDEN CAMERA (German TV; lifetime achievement award)
  • 1990: BAMBI (Lifetime Achievement Award from the German magazine BUNTE)
For his acting
  • 1981: OTTO (Most popular Film Star; from German Magazine BRAVO)
  • 1980: SATURN Award (Most Popular International Performer)
  • 1980: GOLDEN GLOBE: World Film Favorite-Male
  • 1973: BAMBI (shared with Tony Curtis for "The Persuaders", from the German magazine BUNTE)
  • 1973: BEST ACTOR IN TV, award from the french magazine TELE-7-JOURS, shared with Tony Curtis for "The Persuaders"
  • 1967: ONDAS-AWARD (Spanish TV for "The Saint")
  • 1967: OTTO (Most popular TV-star for "The Saint"; from German magazine BRAVO)


Publications

Moore wrote a book about the filming of Live and Let Die, based on his diaries. Roger Moore as James Bond: Roger Moore's Own Account of Filming Live and Let Die was published in London in 1973, by Pan Books. The book includes an acknowledgment to Sean Connery, with whom Moore has been friends for many years: "I would also like to thank Sean Connery – with whom it would not have been possible."

Moore's autobiography My Word is My Bond (ISBN 0061673889) was published by Collins in the US in November 2008. It was published in the UK by Michael O'Mara Books Ltd on 2 October 2008 (ISBN 9781843173182).

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1945 Perfect Strangers
Caesar and Cleopatra Roman soldier
1946 Gaiety George
Piccadilly Incident
1949 Paper Orchid
Trottie True
1950 Honeymoon Deferred
1951 One Wild Oat
1954 The Last Time I Saw Paris
1955 Interrupted Melody
The King's Thief Jack
1956 Diane Prince Henri
1959 The Miracle Captain Michael Stuart
1961 The Sins of Rachel Cade
Gold of the Seven Saints
1962 Romulus and the Sabines
No Man's Land
1968 Vendetta for the Saint Simon Templar
The Fiction Makers Simon Templar
1969 Crossplot Gary Fenn
1970 The Man Who Haunted Himself Harold Pelham
1973 Live and Let Die James Bond
1974 Gold Rod Slater
The Man with the Golden Gun James Bond
1975 That Lucky Touch
1976 London Conspiracy
Sherlock Holmes in New York Sherlock Holmes
Street People
Shout at the Devil Sebastian Oldsmith
1977 The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond
1978 The Wild Geese Lieutenant Shaun Fynn
1979 Escape to Athena Major Otto Hecht
Moonraker James Bond
1980 North Sea Hijack Rufus Excalibur ffolkes Also known as ffolkes
The Sea Wolves Captain Gavin Stewart
Sunday Lovers
1981 The Cannonball Run Seymour Goldfarb
For Your Eyes Only James Bond
1983 Octopussy James Bond
Curse of the Pink Panther Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau
1984 The Naked Face
1985 A View to a Kill James Bond
1987 The Magic Snowman Voice
1990 Fire, Ice and Dynamite Sir George Windsor
Bullseye!
1992 Bed and Breakfast
1994 The Man Who Wouldn't Die TV
1996 The Quest Lord Edgar Dobbs
1997 The Saint Radio Announcer Voice
Spice World The Chief
2001 The Enemy
2002 Na Svoji Vesni
2002 Boat Trip Lloyd Faversham
2005 Charles Lindbergh: The True Story Documentary, Narrator
Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie January Q. Irontail Voice, Direct-to-DVD
2008 Agent Crush Burt Gasket Voice


Criticism

Moore has had, and continues to have, an enormous fanbase worldwide, particularly in Western Europe and in the USA, and, as James Bond, was undeniably one of the film world's top box office stars for most of the 1970s. However, those fans of his from outside the UK have often been disappointed to find that, in Britain, he is not critically respected.

He has been somewhat unpopular with critics, who have often derided his acting as limited and wooden. In the New York Times of 29 December 1974, Vincent Canby sarcastically wrote that he hereby awarded Moore "the Kabuki Acting Award… in recognition of the manner in which he has reduced all human emotions to a series of variations on one gesture, the raising of the right eyebrow." And in The Good Film And Video Guide (published 1986), David Shipman wrote of A View to a Kill that Moore as James Bond was "not so much like a piece of plastic, as something embalmed but moving." John Brosnan, who with his 1972 book, James Bond In The Cinema, became the first writer to seriously consider the phenomenon of the Bond movies in themselves, as opposed to the books, consistently urged Broccoli to replace Moore, writing in his review of Moonraker in Starburst magazine that he was "plastic...more James Bland than James Bond."

The satirical British TV show Spitting Image once had a sketch in which their latex likeness of Moore, when asked to display emotions by an offscreen director, does nothing but raise an eyebrow. Moore himself has stated that he thought the sketch was funny, and took it in good humour. Indeed, he had always embraced the 'eyebrows' gag wholeheartedly, slyly claiming that he "only had three expressions as Bond: right eyebrow raised, left eyebrow raised and eyebrows crossed when grabbed by Jaws." Spitting Image continued the joke, featuring a Bond movie spoof, The Man with the Wooden Delivery, with Moore's puppet receiving orders from Margaret Thatcher to kill Mikhail Gorbachev, and many other comedy shows of that time ridiculed Moore's acting, Rory Bremner once claiming to have had a death threat from an irate fan of Moore's, following one such routine.

When Moore was made the subject of an edition of the BBC1 series Best Of British on 22 October 1999, the review in Time Out stated he should not have been included, due to being "second-rate". Similarly, reviewing the programme in The Stage, comedy writer Harry Venning wrote that, while he personally enjoyed The Saint and The Persuaders, and "although he (Moore) certainly holds a place in the nation's affection it would be hard to think of anything he has ever been best at.....his movie career has been largely undistinguished, and there is more chance of finding Glenn Miller's plane than anyone who thinks Moore was the definitive James Bond. I suspect we love him because of his limitations, rather than despite them."

He decided to become a tax exile when Labour was returned to power in 1974, and has lived abroad ever since. However, in December 2007, he joined a protest in Bristolmarker organised by the left-wing Unite trade union against the closure of a nearby Cadbury chocolate factory.

References

  1. Roger Moore Biography (1927-)
  2. Link to www.rogermoore.org
  3. More precisely, BBC1, BBC2, the ITV network, Channel 4, and Five, the five 'traditional' terrestrial stations. The series has since been seen shown on the digital terrestrial-only station ITV4. (See ITV4 reference below)
  4. "ITV4" article, Wikipedia, Version used dated 29 October 2006, retrieved 6 November 2006
  5. "Need Citation"
  6. Why did 'saint' Roger Moore break so many hearts? Daily Mail, 12 October 2007
  7. The Fly Who Loved Me (directed by Dan Chambers)
  8. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation
  9. Roger Moore helps Selfridges to Drop Foie Gras
  10. AFP: Roger Moore honored with star on 'Walk of Fame'
  11. Roger Moore Official Site
  12. Roger Moore's official website
  13. Amazon UK
  14. Roger Moore: "It's all a bit of a joke" Roger Moore Official Site
  15. Black, Jeremy The Politics of James Bond: From Fleming's Novels to the Big Screen (2005)
  16. Bremner, Rory Beware of Imitations (1999)
  17. Venning, Harry "Flashback thriller was a shock to the system", The Stage, 28 October 1999


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