Roger Moore, James Bond Actor, Dead at 89

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Soundtrack album for Live and Let Die, featuring the title song by Paul McCartney and Wings

He wasn’t the first James Bond, nor was Bond the only role he played. But for seven of those ever-popular films, from 1973’s Live and Let Die to 1985’s A View to a Kill, it was Roger Moore in the title role as 007, the British secret agent created in 1953 by the late Ian Fleming. Moore died early today (May 23) after what his family tweeted, “a short but brave battle with cancer.”

They also tweeted, “With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated.”

In addition to the Bond films, Moore was best known for his role as Simon Templar in the British TV series The Saint from 1962-69.

Moore died in Switzerland; his family stated that a private funeral will take place in Monaco. He was 89.

Sir Roger George Moore was born in Stockwell, London, on Oct. 14, 1927. Following his national service, he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began appearing as an extra in films while also working as a model. In 1954 he signed a contract with MGM and appeared in several unsuccessful films before signing with Warner Bros. two years later. In 1959 he starred in the film The Miracle and in an episode of the TV series The Third Man.

Watch Roger Moore in a fight scene from Octopussy

It was, in fact, television that gave him his steadiest work in his early years, with roles in Ivanhoe (1958-59), The Alaskans (1959-60), Maverick (1960-61) and, finally, The Saint, which elevated him to international fame. Moore appeared in 118 episodes of the series, then took a role in The Persuaders! (1971–1972) before the Bond role was offered to him.

Watch the opening credits sequence from The Spy Who Loved Me, with the title song song by Carly Simon

Moore was being considered for the role as early as the mid-’60s, according to various biographies, but said that he would not take it until he was certain that Sean Connery, who had been begun starring as Bond in 1962’s Dr. No, was finished playing the character. In 1969, for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, actor George Lazenby took the role, and Connery returned for 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, but by 1973 Bond was Moore’s for the asking. He played the agent in Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill before moving on to other things.

Watch Paul McCartney perform the title song from Live and Let Die live in New York

After leaving the Bond films, Moore took a five-year break before coming back with the TV series My Riviera and the film Bed & Breakfast. He appeared in the 1996 film The Quest, and as the Chief in Spice World in 1997. He continued to land roles in other films and television programs, but Moore never recaptured the level of fame he enjoyed during his run as the great 007.

Moore never won an Oscar for his film work but was the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards.

He was knighted in 2003.

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