Sir Roger Moore 1927 - 2017
Roger Moore, humanitarian, actor, raconteur, gentleman, and completely awesome James Bond, has sadly passed away. I wouldn't have become a Bond fan in the first place if it wasn't for Roger Moore. My early memories of Bond films all seem to revolve around his 007. The spectacular ski jump off the mountain in The Spy Who Loved Me, grappling with Richard Kiel's steel toothed Jaws, snipping the wires in the mechanical arm of Tee Hee, unzipping Madeline Smith's dress with his magnetic watch, the explosive jet sequence that opens Octopussy, shoving Hervé Villechaize into a suitcase.
The franchise was by no means assured of its future in the seventies but it was Roger's suavest of the suave mischievous gentlemen adventurer Bond who steered the ship safely through rocky waters. Roger was easily the most forthcoming of the Bond actors in discussing and celebrating his time as 007 and was the greatest ambassador the series is ever likely to have.
As I type this, Roger is still a reassuring warm background presence. The Persuaders and The Saint are being repeated and I can daily watch Simon Templar sock villains in the mush and Lord Brett Sinclair playfully joust with Tony Curtis on the French Rivrera in outrageous fashions. Roger was a contract player with MGM in his early years and worked with legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Lana Turner but it was television that made him a star. Not just The Saint and The Persuaders but Ivanhoe and Maverick.
The chance to play James Bond came relatively late in his career (certainly compared to Connery and Lazenby) but he more than made the most of it and it's hard to see an actor ever playing 007 seven times again as Roger did. When he wasn't foiling the world domination plans of supervillains, Roger made some pretty good films when he had the chance. Gold, The Wild Geese, Shout at the Devil, Bed & Breakfast, North Sea Hijack. Even some of the bad ones, like Fire, Ice & Dynamite, The Cannonball Run, and Street People are enjoyable in their own strange way.
He was modest about his acting but despite his sense of humour he always nailed any scene that required him to play it straight. The centrifuge shuttle simulator (where Bond emerges looking genuinely rattled and confused) scene in Moonraker, kicking the car off the cliff in For Your Eyes Only, or the "No more worries" moment where he closes the eyes of Vijay in Octopussy. Bond's outrage at Max Zorin in the office scene in A View To A Kill would only work with Roger's more gentlemanly 007. The greatest achievement of Roger as an actor was that he took on an iconic role inextricably linked to Sean Connery and managed to make it his own. He did it his way.
Roger mostly drifted out of acting in his later years and devoted his energy to his charity work for UNICEF. I think we had all liked to assume that playing James Bond conferred some sort of immortality so Roger's passing was somehow unexpected even though he was in his ninetieth year. It's fair to say though that he had a very long and enviable life. I will greatly miss Roger's presence whenever they make a new James Bond documentary and I will miss seeing him on television telling funny stories and talking about his life. Happily, we can continue to enjoy the adventures of Simon Templar, Lord Brett Sinclair, James Bond and all the roles that made Roger famous. They'll always remind us that no one did it better.
- Jake

c 2017 Alternative 007

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