For weeks now, I have struggled to put into many words just how wonderful Sir. Roger Moore was. A fantastic actor, a beautiful soul and the greatest James Bond of all time. There just seems to be an emptiness in the world without him now. As a fan since almost my birth, and as someone who was lucky to reach out to him and have him reach back, my heart is absolutely broken at the passing of this magnificent man.
Sir. Roger Moore was best known for his work as James Bond, The Saint and as an ambassador for UNICEF. But Roger somehow held even more talent as a terrific author and a highly intelligent man, with a joyful twinkle in his eye and a cheeky step in his walk. And perhaps even more wonderful was his wit and his fantastic skill at lighthearted sarcasm. Roger had a golden personality that made him a man of desire to women and a role model to men. With his handsome looks, perfect British accent and his ability to incorporate humor and tough-guy machismo into every role, he could only be destined for the screen, big and small.
Although starting out in a career of male modeling, Roger was soon snapped up by various studios to appear in several TV shows and movies, including the classic TV show ‘Ivanhoe’. But it was his role as Simon Templar in ‘The Saint’ on television in the 1960’s that propelled him to great fame. With his famous raised eyebrow and total swagger, Roger constantly delivered a fantastic performance as Templar. Which led him to another classic TV series, ‘The Persuaders’, starring with his longtime friend Tony Curtis. At this stage, Roger was one of the biggest stars on TV. But with great talent comes bigger work. And there’s no bigger than James Bond.
For me, the early James Bond movies always meant very little to me. Weak stories, dull villains and a lifeless performance from Sir. Sean Connery as 007. With ‘Goldfinger’, there are many early signs of what would become Roger’s Bond. Connery started out with ‘Dr. No’, which is in hindsight not a bad movie, but void of fun. Then ‘From Russia With Love’ came along, but yet again featured a lackluster performance from Connery. It was only with ‘Goldfinger’ that he shined as 007, full of charm and humor, and far more energetic than before. But afterwards it all backtracked and Connery became unexciting again, although nor his fault, but that of the writers. Then George Lazenby came along and was so bad even Connery agreed so and came back one more time. Officially at least. But with ‘Live And Let Die’, a whole new era of James Bond began.
Roger signed up to take over from Connery, eventually going on to star in six more movies as Bond. And with ‘Live And Let Die’ as his first outing as everyone’s favorite spy, it was clear that Roger was the man needed to bring this franchise to life. Purists will claim Sean Connery was the best Bond, having been the first, but a real movie fan like me knows that Roger Moore was the first real Bond. Bringing much needed humor to a dull role, along with real swagger, a cheeky smile and his trademark suaveness, Roger propelled 007 to dizzy heights. While ‘Goldfinger’ has a great performance from Connery, and a fun story and villain, it suffers from little action. And Lazenby’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ has great action, but bad story and Lazenby himself as wooden as a tree. But Roger Moore had the best of both worlds. As a longtime movie fan, I could never fault any of Roger’s Bond entries, not even in the slightest. With ‘Live And Let Die’ filled with incredible action, a fantastic story, a gorgeous breakthrough performance from the spectacular Jane Seymour and a top notch soundtrack including the iconic title song from Paul McCartney and Wings, it remains the first real Bond movie. And Roger seriously couldn’t have been more wonderful as James Bond himself. With the fantastic quips, the beautiful scenes with Jane, and the countless incredible action scenes, including the classic double decker bus chase, Roger cemented himself as the true super spy.
Following up his first outing as the new awesome James Bond, Roger next starred in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, with legendary actor Christopher Lee playing the title role (Named Scaramanga), an egotistical hitman who harnesses the Sun’s rays for electricity and plots a dastardly plan to make himself the richest man in the world. Roger yet again showcases his fantastic star power, as he blasts his way through the screen, evading and chasing Scaramanga’s henchmen, in a host of incredible action scenes. And in between fending off the bad guys, he beds beautiful women, including the stunning Britt Eckland, and throws out epic quips like “There’s a useful four-letter word, and you’re full of it!”. ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ is action cinema at its best. With ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ following closely, Roger as James Bond had become a global sensation, with the movies raking in huge money and carrying on Roger’s superstardom. Yet another perfect movie, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Featuring the first appearance of Jaws (Played by the late great Richard Kiel) and the classic underwater Lotus chase, this movie has long been considered Roger’s best entry as Bond, and was preferred by the great man himself.
With three more blockbuster Bond movies… ‘Moonraker’, which is lovingly considered the James Bond equivalent of ‘Star Wars’, the spectacular ‘For Your Eyes Only’, and ‘Octopussy’, which is possibly the most lavish of Roger’s Bond movies… There was one more outing on the cards for Roger in the role of 007, starring in the absolutely fantastic ‘A View To A Kill’. The first Bond movie released in my life, ‘A View To A Kill’ has always been my favorite Roger Moore James Bond movie. Featuring a more realistic aging Bond, and taking on more of a detective movie, this was the movie that introduced me to Bond… James Bond. Co-starring Christopher Walken as a psychotic killer who sets out to kick start a chain reaction of earthquakes across San Francisco, with a plan of destroying Silicon Valley and cornering the computer chip market. Filled with glorious action scenes, including an insane chase through Paris, and a stunning fire truck escape through the streets of San Francisco, ‘A View To A Kill’ is a joy to watch. Although long criticized for several aspects, including having Roger at 57 play 007, and a pretty unexciting performance from Tanya, I’ve always been a big fan of this movie. And I personally love seeing Roger continue telling the story of Bond. Watching all seven of Roger’s Bond movies take us on a 12-year ride with this wonderful character, and gives us a complete picture of 007. Roger himself often admitted to having problems with ‘A View To A Kill’, such as a strong dislike for Grace Jones. But for the problems, I constantly enjoy this movie, and rank it as Roger’s most awesome Bond movie.
As with most stars in movie business, Sir. Roger Moore didn’t rely solely on his career as James Bond, but also starred in many movies in between 007 adventures. With a filmography including classics like ‘Cannonball Run’ and ‘Escape To Athena’, Roger also starred in movies inspired by his Bond movies, namely ‘The Wild Geese’. ‘The Wild Geese’ stars Roger, Richard Burton, Hardy Kruger and Richard Harris as mercenaries who are sent on a mission to rescue a South African leader from a hoard of killers. But when they’re betrayed by their employers and left to die, the mercenaries take the fight to the enemy, in a spectacular and gruesome series of battle scenes. ‘The Wild Geese’ is as great as war movies get, with all lead stars given a chance to shine, although Roger is somewhat underused. And the Bond connections continue, as ‘The Wild Geese’ features an opening title sequence by 007 credit designer Maurice Binder, complete with song by Joan Armatrading. A stunning movie. Along with ‘The Wild Geese’, Roger also stars in the fantastic thriller ‘North Sea Hijack’, starring as a cat-loving explosives expert who must battle terrorists when they threaten to blow up two oil rigs in the Atlantic ocean. A terrific action movie that keeps some of Roger’s humor, but throws away the classic Bond womanizing and crazy gadgets, while still showcasing the great man on top form.
With a collection of other movies, including the classics ‘Cannonball Run’ and ‘Escape To Athena’, to his name, Roger Moore, the movie star, was one of the most beloved actors in cinema, as well as instantly recognizable. He even starred as Sherlock Holmes in ‘Sherlock Holmes In New York’ and briefly as Inspector Clouseau in ‘Curse Of The Pink Panther’. His last big screen role came in ‘The Quest’, alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme from 1996 (Which was also directed by Van Damme). Although Roger’s least favorite movie to star in, it’s still a slice of 90s action fun. Roger had a very diverse career both on TV and in cinema, which has left us with many fantastic memories of such a wonderful man.
Turning his back on big screen projects, he decided to focus his life on bringing peace and comfort to starving and homeless people in third world countries, as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Raising much needed funds and awareness, Sir. Roger spent the rest of his life fighting poverty and hatred, backing UNICEF with loyalty and dedication. As a man with nothing but love in his heart, his selfless acts to make the world a better place has saved countless lives, protecting future generations and giving people hope and prayers. An untold number of children will be born in the future, who will have children of their own, carrying on family legacies for centuries to come. And all of those lives are owed to Sir. Roger Moore. We must never forget that. A hero on screen, and a hero in life.
In recent years, Sir. Roger embarked on several career retrospectives, including best-selling books, both telling stories from his life, and some focused on his thoughts and memories of the James Bond franchise, including ‘My Word Is My Bond’ (His autobiography) and ‘Bond On Bond’ (A look at 50 years of Bond, also reissued to cover later years). Also as part of his career celebrations, he embarked on a European tour, the brilliantly titled “Moore On Tour”. I’m delighted to have seen the great man in person for his show in Dublin, Ireland, last November. It was a special night, filled with stories of fun, heartache and his career. And he ended the show with a passionate plea to everyone to support UNICEF and to make our world a better place for all. It really was a beautiful night. Sir. Roger was magnificent, and carried his iconic charm and wit all the way through his life, and tour proved it. I’ll never forget that night.
He may be gone in body, but Sir. Roger Moore will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans forever. And one day, the countless generations of people he saved will know just how special he was. The world was cruel to him, but he was never anything but kind in return. To take inspiration from one of his favorite music artists, Frank Sinatra… The record shows he took the blows, but Sir. Roger always did it his way. And nobody did it better. May the great man rest in peace, and his brilliance never be forgotten. I love you, Sir. Roger.