Ours is the loneliest profession, Mr. Bond. So uttered classic villain Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee in one of his best performances) in 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun. He was talking to Roger Moore, of course, who sadly passed away earlier today after a short illness.
Moore played the suave British Secret Service agent 007 seven times across a 12-year span, starring in some of the best known Bond films such as Live and Let Die (1973, Moore’s first appearance in the series), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), and A View to a Kill (1985, his last Bond performance.)
Moore’s take on Ian Fleming’s best known character departed somewhat from the novels’ traditional canon, and differed significantly from Sean Connery’s portrayal. Connery, in fact, was particularly vocal in his criticism about his successor in the part.
Moore’s Bond had a more debonair, almost playboy-ish way about him. These new traits were perhaps designed to conform to the changing tastes of cinema audiences throughout the 70s and 80s, but nevertheless, it became a polarizing issue. He was nonetheless voted as Best Bond in an 2004 Academy Awards poll.
Moore was already well known even before he was offered the part of 007, due to his role as rogue-ish, charming, Robin Hood-esque criminal Simon Templar in The Saint. Based on the long-running book series by Leslie Charteris, The Saint
ran for six series on TV, starting in 1962, and featuring 118 episodes in total. Aside from playing the main character, Moore also produced and even directed some of the episodes. Later, Moore would incorporate some of Templar’s traits and nuances into his portrayal of 007.
Beyond Bond, Moore enjoyed a remarkable film career in his own right. He played tormented city worker Harold Pelham in The Man who Haunted Himself (1970), for instance. Though the film was not successful at the box office, it remained a favorite of Moore’s, by his own admission, and has earned a cult following over the years. Moore also played a significant part in the military-themed The Wild Geese (1978), and featured in many more films.
Off camera, Moore went through a couple of well publicized marriages, two of which ended in tempestuous divorces. He also had several health scares in later years. Moore was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 1993, and underwent successful surgery. He suffered pneumonia in 2012 and was left bedridden for weeks.
Roger Moore passed away peacefully earlier today, aged 89, after a short battle with cancer. He leaves behind an immortal legacy as a somewhat divisive James Bond, for sure, and he will always be remembered as Simon Templar, the ‘good’ criminal from the classic TV series The Saint.
Rest in peace.