First News
Volume:7, Number:46
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The Spy Who Has Left Us

Sir Roger Moore, who came to the James Bond role in 1973 after Connery tired of it, had already enjoyed a long career in films and television

| Tanmoy Khan |

British-born actor Sir Roger Moore succumbed to death on May 23. Best known for playing James Bond, Moore was 89 when he died. According to family sources, the actor died following "a short but brave battle with cancer." The statement from his children read: "Thank you Pops for being you, and being so very special to so many people." "With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated," they said in a Twitter post.

Sir Roger played the famous spy in seven Bond films, including Live and Let Die and A View to a Kill. He took the character of James Bond in a more humorous direction than his predecessor Sean Connery. Sir Roger is survived by his three children and wife Kristina Tholstrup. Sir Roger's Bond was calm and suave - a smooth operator who could seemingly get himself out of a tricky situation with ease. The veteran star, who died in Switzerland, will have a private funeral in Monaco in accordance with his wishes, his children said.

The actor, who came to the James Bond 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 US 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 US series, The Alaskans. In England, he had a long-running 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 Sir Roger'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, Sir Roger had studied painting before enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He played a few small roles in theater and films before his mandatory army dutyafter which he 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 of the 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.

He could not walk into a restaurant on hisy own for 20 or 30 years, he once said, saying that all changed when he found fame in the role. He then said that was not really him, because as the timid he would rather stay home and have a sandwich. In reality, he was spooked by the stunts he had to perform as James Bond, and would steel himself with a mixture of Valium and beer before facing the cameras in sex scenes. The Bond films were said to have earned Sir Roger USD29 million. He moved to the United States to avoid paying taxes.

After handing over the role of Bond to Timothy Dalton, Sir Roger went into semi-retirement, living a millionaire's life and traveling between his homes in Los Angeles, Switzerland, and the south of France. In 1991, he became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, having been introduced to the role by the late actress Audrey Hepburn. As Hepburn had, he threw much of his energy into the task. In 1996, when his UNICEF job took him to the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, he disclosed that he too had been a victim. He gave no details, but said it was important to encourage young victims not to feel guilty. He received the Dag Hammarskjold Inspiration Award for his work with UNICEF and was named a commander in France's National Order of Arts and Letters in 2008, an award he said was worth "more than an Oscar".

That same year he published an autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, which included details about his work on the Bond films, his friendship with Hepburn, his encounters with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and other stars, and his health struggles — including a bout with prostate cancer, which he beat. Sir Roger was divorced thrice, from skater Doorn Van Steyn in 1953, English singer Dorothy Squires in 1969, and Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, the mother of his children Deborah, Geoffrey, and Christian, in 2000.

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