Monday, 29 May 2017

ROGER MOORE - dies aged 89 - R.I.P.

Sir Roger George Moore passed away on 23rd May aged 89, following 'a short but brave battle with cancer' it said in an official statement released by his family from Switzerland. Born on 14th October 1927 in Stockwell, London, England he worked in the film and television business for eight decades, securing his first uncredited roles in feature films as early as 1945 and 1946 including 'Vacation from Marriage'  with Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr, to 'Caesar and Cleopatra' with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, to 'Piccadilly Incident' with Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding.

Roger was the only child of mother Lillian Pope and father George Alfred Moore, a policeman. He attended Battersea Grammar School, and was evacuated to Holsworthy, Devon during the Second World War, where he attended Launceston College in Cornwall. He was further educated at the boys selective Dr. Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. He initially took up an apprenticeship in an animation studio but that was short-lived, and then by accident he was introduced to Director Brian Desmond Hurst who cast him as an extra in 'Caesar and Cleopatra'. Hurst later agreed to pay Moore's fees so that he could attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he remained for three terms. After the end of the Second World War he was conscripted into two years of compulsory National Service, and in late 1946 was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps as a Second Lieutenant. In the early '50's before his acting career really took hold, the young Moore was a paid male model, often appearing in knitwear publications of the day.

His first credited screen role came in made for television film 'The Governess' in 1949 and 'The House in the Square' that same year. More bit parts and uncredited roles followed during the early '50's, and the he signed up with MGM for a seven year deal in 1954, but was released from that contract after just two years because of the critical and commercial failures of those MGM Produced films. He then signed with Warner Bros. and appeared in a number of television shows and took the lead actor role in 'The Miracle' in 1959.

From 1958 onwards Moore played in a host of television series - some more notable than others. These included in the title role of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe in 'Ivanhoe' which aired across 1958 and 1959 and ran for 39 episodes. This was quickly followed up by Western series 'The Alaskans' from 1959 to 1960 across 37 episodes in which he starred as Silky Harris for ABC/Warner Bros. Popular ABC/WB Western series of the same era 1960-1961 'Maverick' with James Garner in the lead role as frontier gambler Brett Maverick with Moore cast as Beau Maverick, an English-accented cousin. This show ran for sixteen episodes for Moore. Following this up in 1962 for 118 episodes was the hugely popular 'The Saint' television series based on the Leslie Charteris series of novels, with Moore playing the title role of Simon Templar.  The worldwide success of the series, particularly in the US made Moore an international star by 1967. He also went on to Direct several episodes. In 1971 media magnate Lew Grade enticed Moore to star in a television series alongside Tony Curtis as two international multi-millionaire playboys who come together reluctantly to right the wrongs that the police or the courts across Europe cannot. 'The Persuaders' was a success in Europe and Australia especially but failed in the US market. Moore was paid an unprecedented GB£1M per series (back in 1971) making him the highest paid television Actor in the world at the time for his portrayal of Lord Brett Sinclair.

In August 1972 Moore was approached by Albert Broccoli to play James Bond after Sean Connery finally stepped down from playing the Ian Flemming created Secret Service Agent 007. Moore accepted and in 1973 his first outing as James Bond hit the screens in 'Live and Let Die'. Moore continued to reprise his role as  Bond in 'The Man with the Golden Gun' (1974); 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977); 'Moonraker' (1979); 'For Your Eyes Only' (1981); 'Octopussy' (1983); and 'A View to a Kill' (1985).

In the intervening period Moore starred in 'Gold' in 1974 with Susannah York; 'Street People' in 1976 with Stacy Keach; 'Shout at the Devil' also in 1976 with Lee Marvin;'The Wild Geese' in 1978 with Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Hardy Kruger; 'Escape to Athena' in 1979 with Telly Savalas, David Niven and Elliott Gould; 'ffolkes' in 1980 with James Mason and Anthony Perkins; 'The Sea Wolves' that same year with Gregory Peck, James Mason and Trevor Howard; 'Cannonball Run' in 1981 with Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr. and Farah Fawcett; 'Curse of the Pink Panther' in 1983 with David Niven, Robert Wagner, Herbert Lom and Burt Kwouk and 'The Naked Face' in 1984 with Rod Steiger and Elliott Gould before his final outing as Bond, James Bond in 1985.

The late '80's and '90's provided fewer roles that kicked off the new decade with sporty action comedy 'Fire, Ice & Dynamite'; then Michael Winner's comedy crime caper 'Bullseye' with Michael Caine both in 1990; followed by RomCom 'Bed & Breakfast' in 1991, then fantasy crime drama for Director Bill Condon 'The Man Who Wouldn't Die' with Malcolm McDowell in 1994. 'The Quest' came next in 1996 Written, Directed and Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and then a cameo as a car radio announcer in Phillip Noyce's 1997 big screen adaptation of 'The Saint' with Val Kilmer portraying the titular Simon Templar. The '90's were seen out with a forgettable turn in 'Spice World'  and then four episodes on the single high fashion action adventure series 'The Dream Team'. 

'The Enemy' opened up the new decade in 2001, then Slovenian comedy in which Roger Moore plays Roger Moore, and then 'Boat Trip' in 2002 with Cuba Gooding Jnr. In between there were singular appearances on television series 'Alias' and 'Tatort' and some voice work as Father Christmas on short film 'The Fly Who Loved Me', 'Here Comes Peter Cottontail : The Movie', 'Foley & McColl : This Way Up', 'Agent Crush', 'Cats & Dogs : The Revenge of Kitty Galore' and short film 'The Lighter'.

Most recently there has been 'A Princess for Christmas' in 2011, 'Incompatibles' in 2013 in which Roger Moore plays Roger Moore, again, and then 'The Carer' in 2016, in which he reprises his role as . . . Roger Moore, and then a turn in Simon West's rebooted 'The Saint' made for television film with Adam Rayner this time playing Simon Templar. In production at the time of Moore's death were animated family adventure film 'Astrid Silverlock' in which Moore narrates, animated 'Troll Hunters' with Moore voicing the role of Leif with both these animated features Written and Directed by Robert Rhodin, and thriller 'Summer Night, Winter Moon' with Stephen Fry in pre-production.

All up Moore had 95 acting credits to his name, thirteen as Producer, two as Director on nine episodes of 'The Saint' and two of 'The Persuaders' and during his lifetime he picked up ten award wins and a further eight nominations. He was married to actress and ice skater Doorn Van Steyn from 1946 to 1953; to Welsh singer Dorothy Squires from 1953 to 1968; to Italian actress Luisa Mattioli form 1969 to 1996 with whom he had three children (Deborah, born 1963, Geoffrey, born 1966 and Christian, born 1973) and to Danish socialite Kristina Tholstrup from 2002.

Moore suffered from ill health throughout much of his life having nearly died at age five from double pneumonia, been a long term sufferer of kidney stones that saw him hospitalised on several occasions, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993, was fitted with a heart pacemaker in 2003, had been treated for skin cancer several times and in 2013 was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. In 1978 he moved to Switzerland for tax purposes it was reported at the time, and over the subsequent years he split his time between homes in Monte Carlo, Switzerland and the south of France. In 1999 Moore was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and in 2003 was promoted to a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition for his decade long work supporting charitable organisations, most notably UNICEF. Aside from his film and television appearances Moore also published a number of books - his 2008 autobiography 'My Word is My Bond', in 2012 'Bond on Bond : The Ultimate Book on 50 Years of Bond Movies' and in 2014 'Last Man Standing'.

Roger Moore - played a Secret Agent, a Chief Inspector, a Captain, a Lieutenant, a Major, a Lord, a Duke and a Prince in his time and almost always the archetypal English gentleman; most notably known for his seven times role as James Bond; renowned for his eyebrow acrobatics; and following a career spanning eight decades has left an indelible mark on the world of film and television in which his legacy will live on.

Roger Moore - Rest In Peace
1927 - 2017

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

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