Roger Moore, best known for playing secret service agent James Bond, has died at 89 after a bout with cancer. Although most people, especially those of my generation, associate Sean Connery with the role, Moore actually played the super sleuth for a longer period of time – seven films over a 12 year period. [How many of the eight actors who have played Bond can you name? Answer appears below.]
Roger Moore was born in London on October 14, 1927. His father was a policeman. One day he was assigned to investigate a robbery at the home of film director, Brian Desmond Hurst. Through that tenuous connection Hurst eventually hired young Moore as an extra for one of his films.
Moore was not exactly an instant success. In the early 1950s he worked mainly as a model in print advertisements for knitwear, which earned him the moniker, “The Big Knit.” Later, in the US, Moore appeared in a series of forgettable tv series, such as Ivanhoe, The Alaskans, and The Persuaders. If you remember any of those, you get a gold star. His big break came in 1960 when he was cast as “Beau Maverick” in the popular tv western, Maverick. Beau was cast as Bret and Bart Maverick’s English cousin. Ironically, Sean Connery had tested for the role but turned it down. Then, in 1962 Moore was cast as the lead in the popular series, The Saint (1962 – 1969).
By the early 1970s Connery had made it known he was no longer interested in continuing the role of James Bond. In 1973 Moore became the third Bond and, at 45, the oldest. His style was different from Connery’s. Connery was more physical. Moore was more debonair playboy and exhibited more of a sense of humor.
The Bond role proved to be the highpoint of Moore’s career. For the next 30 years or so he appeared in mostly minor roles. He focused his energies on humanitarian work. For example, he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991. Also, he helped produce a video for PETA that protested against the production and sale of foie gras (fatty duck), which mistreats and exploits ducks.
In 2004 in an Academy Awards poll, Moore was voted the “Best Bond.” Be that as it may, in my opinion, Connery was the quintessential Bond. My favorite Bond movie was Goldfinger. I even liked the villains in it – Auric Goldfinger (do you get the pun in the name?) and Odd Job. Not to take anything away from Moore, when I think of the super sleuth, I think of Connery, not Moore.
Answer (in no particular order): Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Barry Nelson, George Lazenby, David Niven and Daniel Craig. If you named them all, you are a Bond savant, but, also, you really need to get out more.