With arched brow, Roger Moore found humor in Bond and in life

The Standard Journal - - OBITUARIES - By Lind­sey Bahr

LOS AN­GE­LES — Sir Roger Moore al­ways made sure to laugh at him­self be­fore the au­di­ence could.

With a mere arch of an eye­brow, Moore, whose wit was drier than James Bond’s mar­ti­nis, could con­vey a skep­ti­cism of his ac­ci­den­tal pro­fes­sion, dis­arm­ing good looks and the suave char­ac­ters he of­ten played, from Bond to Si­mon Tem­plar, all while sav­ing the day and charming a scant­ily clad girl in the process.

Sport­ing a posh ac­cent and square jaw, Moore, who died Tues­day at age 89, looked the part of a movie star and a debonair in­ter­na­tional spy. But be­neath the sur­face, the po­lice­man’s son from South Lon­don, a sickly child and plump kid who al­ways chose a joke over a street fight, saw the in­her­ent ridicu­lous­ness of 007 — and left an in­deli­ble mark on the role, and a gen­er­a­tion, be­cause of it.

“You can’t be a real spy and have ev­ery­body in the world know who you are and what your drink is,” Moore of­ten said. “That’s just hys­ter­i­cally funny.”

A l arge part of his charm is that Moore never set out to be an ac­tor. As a teenager, on a lark, he tagged along with some friends do­ing crowd work on the Vivien Leigh and Claude Raines film “Cae­sar and Cleopa­tra” and caught the eye of some­one who thought he should meet the di­rec­tor,

“He said I think you should be trained. I said, ‘ Oh how won­der­ful,’” Moore re­called in an in­ter­view.

“So I rushed home and told my mother I was go­ing to be Ste­wart Granger.”

Star­dom did not come im­me­di­ately, how­ever. Moore toiled as a work­ing ac­tor, in tele­vi­sion and films in the UK, and then in the U.S. as a stu­dio con­tract player for MGM be­fore break­ing through in a few tele­vi­sion roles, in “Mav­er­ick” and then “The Saint.” The long-run­ning show “The Saint” about the witty and charming ro­man­tic hero Si­mon Tem­plar, many noted, was not un­like Moore him­self — and would in­form how he chose to play James Bond over the course of seven films, start­ing with “Live and Let Die” from 1973 and end­ing with “A View to a Kill” in 1985.

File / The As­so­ci­ated Press

Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven films, died af­ter a short bat­tle with can­cer.

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