As part of our celebrations of 50 years of James Bond on the big screen we takes a look at the longest serving actor to play the role, Roger Moore.
Moore’s foray into the film industry began in his late teens. By the age of 17 he had already appeared in a movie (Caesar and Cleopatra), albeit as an extra. To improve his skills as an actor, he attended the renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts briefly where he met Lois Maxwell who would later on become his colleague in the Bond franchise.
At the end of the Second World War, Roger Moore was conscripted into national service. During his period in Royal Army Service Corps, Roger Moore commanded a small depot in West Germany before being transferred to the entertainment branch. He would later go onto become a captain in the service.
By the start of the 1950s, Roger Moore’s appealing looks earned him several jobs as a male model. He was frequently featured in the print media advertising products from toothpaste to knit wear. His position as a male model gave him a foothold in the television industry. After a series of minor roles and an unsuccessful contract with MGM, Roger Moore landed his first major break in the TV series Ivanhoe which ran from 1958 to 1959. He then went on to appear in two other series; Maverick and The Alaskans.
In 1961, Moore was cast as Simon Templar in the TV series The Saint. It was an adaptation of a series of novels and it would go on to become his second most popular role. Roger Moore was The Saint for six years and successfully completed over a hundred different episodes before the series ended. The international success of The Saint as well as Roger Moore’s on screen suave performance drew the admiration of many people including a certain Ian Fleming who reportedly voiced his opinion that Moore would do nicely as Bond.
Despite his overwhelming popularity, it was not until 1967 that the idea of Roger Moore in the role of James Bond began to receive some serious consideration. Harry Saltzman, the co-producer of the Bond Franchise raised the suggestion during discussions of Sean Connery’s possible replacement. However, it was only after Connery’s return to the series and final retirement from the role – at least far as EON was concerned – in Diamonds Are Forever that Roger Moore was chosen to play Bond in Live and Let Die. By this time The Saint had finished and he had gone on to film The Persuaders with Tony Curtis; although a hit in the UK, it failed to take off in the important US market.
After the resounding 1973 success of Live and Let Die, Roger Moore starred as 007 until 1985 when he reprised his role for the last time in A View To A Kill; he was 58 at the time. In all Roger Moore starred in 7 Bond movies stretched over a period of 12 years making him the longest serving actor in the James Bond Role.
Although Roger Moore featured in several movies after A View To A Kill, none of these were as successful as his foray in the Bond franchise. He would however still continue to receive many commendations for his role. At the close of the century he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and then knighted four years later. Contrary to what many people assumed, his knighthood was awarded in recognition of his efforts at Charity with UNICEF and not for his acting career – a distinction that Roger Moore particularly cherished.
In April 2009 during an interview he announced his retirement from acting. Despite many fans’ criticism of his portrayal of Bond as due to the amount of humour contained in his films, he won 62% of the votes to be declared the ‘Best Bond’ at an Academy Awards poll in 2004. Roger Moore received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is aptly located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard.