SWITZERLAND– Roger Moore, the actor famous for portraying James Bond in seven “007” films between 1973 and 1985, has died after a battle with cancer, according to his family. He was 89.
“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,” his children, Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian, said in a statement posted to Moore’s official Twitter account on Tuesday.
The family will hold a private funeral in Monaco, per his wishes, the statement said.
Moore is best known as the man who replaced Sean Connery in the James Bond franchise, but his career was much more than playing the debonair spy.
Born in London the son of a police officer and a housewife, Moore dropped out of high school and went to work as an animation apprentice with a British film company.
His good looks helped get him in front of the camera, however, and he landed a small, uncredited role in the 1945 film “Vacation from Marriage.”
That led to a series of uncredited parts before Moore headed to the states in 1953 for a role in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s TV production of “Julius Caesar.”
He would go on to star as Simon Templar in the popular British television series “The Saint” from 1962 to 1969.
But major success came later in life when at the age of 46 he took on the role of James Bond.
The dapper actor had the longest run as 007. In a 2014, he interview told NPR he thought his version of the spy who never met a foe he couldn’t conquer or a woman he couldn’t seduce, was the most humorous.
“I look like a comedic lover, and Sean [Connery] in particular, and Daniel Craig now, they are killers,” Moore said. “They look like killers. I wouldn’t like to meet Daniel Craig on a dark night if I’d said anything bad about him.”
That same year the actor’s authobiography “One Lucky Bastard: Tales from Tinseltown” was published.
Unlike an earlier autobiography, “My Word Is My Bond,” the 2014 book offered dishy stories including one about how he learned his trademark kissing style from actress Lana Turner, who he starred with in the 1956 drama “Diane.”
“I had already been married twice and hadn’t had many complaints in that department,” Moore wrote. “But Lana taught me the new technique of ‘passion without pressure’ — what a lady she was!”
Moore was married four times: to actress Doorn Van Steyn from 1946 to 1953, singer Dorothy Squires from 1953 to 1968, to Italian actress Luisa Mattioli from 1969 to 1996 and socialite Kristina Tholstrup whom he was married to at the time of his death.
Moore said a prostate cancer diagnosis in 1993 changed his outlook on life.
“I suppose I thought about life and what was going on in mine, and I took some pretty hefty decisions,” he said in a 2003 interview.
That included the decision to leave Mattioli for Tholstrup, who had been a friend of the couple. Mattioli went public with the details of their break up and was awarded a multimillion dollar settlement.
The split caused a rift with Moore’s three children by her, which he said healed over time.
“They have great loyalty to their mother,” Moore said. “But, in the end, I trusted we would all be reconciled, and we are. They now get on with Kristina and accept her importance in my life.”
Moore embraced being a sex symbol early on, but later transitioned to elder statesman status. He continued to take roles here and there including some voice work.
According to IMDB, he had been cast as one of the voices in the forthcoming 2018 animated film “Toll Hunters.”
The actor told NPR in 2014 that he did not believe that death was the end.
“My attitude about death is, going into the next room, and it’s a room that the rest of us can’t get into because we don’t have the key,” he said. “But when we do get the key, we’ll go in there and we’ll see one another again, in some shape or form, or whatever.”