Roger Moore, star of seven James Bond films, dies at 89

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment - BY ROBERT BARR AND JILL LAWLESS

Roger Moore, the suavely in­sou­ciant star of seven James Bond films, has died in Switzer­land. He was 89.

The Bri­tish ac­tor died Tues­day af­ter a short bat­tle with can­cer, ac­cord­ing to a fam­ily state­ment posted on Moore’s of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count.

“We know our own love and ad­mi­ra­tion will be mag­ni­fied many times over, across the world, by peo­ple who knew him for his films, his tele­vi­sion shows and his pas­sion­ate work for UNICEF, which he con­sid­ered to be his great­est achieve­ment,” the state­ment said.

Moore’s re­laxed style and sense of whimsy, which re­lied heav­ily on the arched eye­brow, seemed a com­men­tary on the es­sen­tial ridicu­lous­ness of the Bond films, in which the hand­some Bri­tish se­cret agent was as adept at mix­ing mar­ti­nis, bed­ding beau­ti­ful women and or­der­ing gourmet meals as he was at dis­pos­ing of su­per-vil­lains try­ing to take over the world.

“To me, the Bond sit­u­a­tions are so ridicu­lous, so out­ra­geous,” he once said. “I mean, this man is sup­posed to be a spy and yet, ev­ery­body knows he’s a spy. Ev­ery bar­tender in the world of­fers him mar­ti­nis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of se­ri­ous spy is rec­og­nized ev­ery­where he goes? It’s out­ra­geous. So you have to treat the hu­mour out­ra­geously as well.”

While he never eclipsed Sean Con­nery in the pub­lic’s eye as the de­fin­i­tive James Bond, Moore did play the role of se­cret agent 007 in just as many films as Con­nery did, and he man­aged to do so while “find­ing a joke in ev­ery sit­u­a­tion,” ac­cord­ing to film critic Rex Reed.

The ac­tor, who came to the role in 1973 af­ter Con­nery tired of it, had al­ready en­joyed a long ca­reer in films and tele­vi­sion, al­beit with mixed suc­cess.

He was re­mem­bered warmly by fans of the pop­u­lar U.S. 1950s-60s TV series “Mav­er­ick” as Beau­re­garde Mav­er­ick, the English cousin of the Wild West’s Mav­er­ick broth­ers, Bret and Bart. He also starred in the 1959 U.S. series “The Alaskans.”

In Eng­land, he had a lon­grun­ning TV hit with “The Saint,” play­ing Si­mon Tem­plar, the enig­matic ac­tion hero who helps put wealthy crooks in jail while ab­scond­ing with their for­tunes. By the time the series, which also aired in the United States, ended in 1969, his part­ner­ship with its pro­duc­ers had made him a wealthy man.

Such suc­cess fol­lowed a Time mag­a­zine re­view of one of his ear­li­est films, 1956’s “Diane,” in which his per­for­mance op­po­site Lana Turner was dis­missed as that of “a lump of English roast beef.”

In the 1970s, film critic Vin­cent Canby would dis­miss Moore’s act­ing abil­i­ties as hav­ing “re­duced all hu­man emo­tions to a series of vari­a­tions on one ges­ture, the rais­ing of the right eye­brow.”

Born in Lon­don, the only child of a po­lice­man, Moore had stud­ied paint­ing be­fore en­rolling in the Royal Academy of Dra­matic Art. He played a few small roles in theatre and films be­fore his manda­tory army duty, then moved to Hol­ly­wood in the 1950s. He ap­peared op­po­site El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor in 1954’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and with Eleanor Parker in “In­ter­rupted Melody” the fol­low­ing year.

In 1970, he be­came man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for Euro­pean pro­duc­tion for Faberge’s Brut Pro­duc­tions. With the com­pany, he co-starred with Tony Cur­tis in “The Per­suaders!” for Bri­tish tele­vi­sion and was in­volved in pro­duc­ing “A Touch of Class,” which won a best-ac­tress Os­car for Glenda Jack­son.

Three years later, he made his first Bond film, “Live and Let Die.”

He would make six more, “The Man With the Golden Gun,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Oc­to­pussy,” “Moon­raker,” “For Your Eyes Only and “A View to a Kill” over the next 12 years. And while the Bond of the Ian Flem­ing nov­els that the films were based on was gen­er­ally de­scribed as be­ing in his 30s, Moore would stay with the role un­til he was 57.

He con­tin­ued to work reg­u­larly in films af­ter hand­ing over Bond to Ti­mothy Dal­ton, but never with the same suc­cess. His post-Bond films in­cluded such for­get­table ef­forts as “The Quest” with Jean-Claude Van Damme and “Spice World” with the Spice Girls.

AP PHOTO, FILE

Bri­tish ac­tor Roger Moore, play­ing the ti­tle role of se­cret ser­vice agent 007, James Bond, is shown on lo­ca­tion in Eng­land in 1972. Moore, played Bond in seven films, more than any other ac­tor. Roger Moore’s fam­ily said Tues­day that the former James Bond star has died af­ter a short bat­tle with can­cer.

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