Roger Moore has passed away. According to a statement made by his children on his official Twitter account, Moore died “after a short but brave battle with cancer” and will have a private funeral in Monaco, per his wishes. The actor was 89 years old. Read the full statement below:
Moore is best known for playing the titular role in the television series The Saint, from 1962 to 1969, and MI6 agent James Bond in seven films between 1973 and 1985. He is survived by his three children, Deborah, Geoffrey, and Christian, as well as his wife Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup. Countless celebrities have taken to social media to pay respects to Moore, actor Russell Crowe, filmmaker Edgar Wright, and pop group Duran Duran, who provided the theme song for Moore’s 1985 film A View to Kill:
To commemorate his passing, we look back at Moore’s life and legendary career with these five fast facts.
1. He Began His Career As A Model
In the early 1950s, before Moore broke into acting, he was actually a model who appeared in various print advertisements– including toothpaste and, most notably, knitwear, which earned him the nickname of “Big Knit.” For many critics, this was the basis from which Moore would establish his breezy, lightweight screen persona as he transitioned into acting.
As a humorous postscript to this brief profession, Moore appeared on a 1987 episode of the talk show Dame Edna Experience, where he received a yellow sweater as a Christmas gift from Dame Edna, only to be reminded of his past when she pulls an old photo of his modeling said sweater. Watch the video above.
2. He Attained Stardom On ‘The Saint’
After making the move to acting in the late 1950s, Moore bounced back and forth between television series like Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-65), Ivanhoe (1958-59) and Maverick (1957-62), where he played the cousin of the titular character. However, it wasn’t until he nabbed the role of smooth-talking criminal Simon Templar in The Saint in 1962 that Moore became a household name. Moore had unsuccessfully tried to secure the rights to the book series of the same name in the past, and was thrilled to be able to play the part.
The series would run for six seasons, which made it the longest-running British series up to that point, and Moore’s characterization as a charming rogue would later serve as the inspiration for his tenure as James Bond. In the 1962 episode “Luella,” one character even mistakes Templar for 007. Moore later joked that the role of Templar was meant for Sean Connery, but that the Scottish actor was “unavailable.”
3. He Played James Bond Longer than Any Other Actor
Moore was actually approached twice to play 007 onscreen, but his commitment to The Saint kept him from accepting, and passing the role onto Sean Connery and George Lazenby. It wasn’t until Connery had officially stepped down as Bond, over a decade later, that Moore was able to step in to helm Live and Let Die in 1973. According to his biographer, he had to cut his hair and loose weight to convincingly play the role.
With subsequent appearances in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View to Kill (1985), Moore has the distinction of being the actor who played James Bond longest, as he spent 12 years from his debut to his final performance. He was also the oldest actor to ever play Bond, as he was 58 years old when he retired from the role in 1985. He is credited for keeping the franchise alive after Connery’s departure, and offering a more witty, sophisticated take on the character.
4. He Was Married Four Times
Moore was married four times throughout his life, the first being to actress and ice skater Dorm Van Steyn in 1946– though tension over money and her lack of confidence in her acting career eventually took its tool on the union. They were divorced in 1953. Moore would then marry Welsh singer Dorothy Squires. The couple lived in New York together, but Moore’s alleged interest in actress Dorothy Provine, as well as the thirteen year age gap between them, ended things badly in 1969.
Moore’s longest marriage– and his last– was to Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup, whom he married in 2002. Moore claimed that he loved Tholstrup as she was “organized”, “serene”, “loving” and “calm”, saying “I have a difficult life. I rely on Kristina totally. When we are traveling for my job she is the one who packs. Kristina takes care of all that.”
5. He Suffered Various Health Issues Later In Life
Moore was the victim of various health concerns as he grew older. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993; an affliction that he claims to have made him reassess his life at time time, and subsequently end his unhappy marriage with third wife Luisa Mattioli. In more recent years, Moore was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which made him unable– in a sad irony, given his 007 status– to drink martinis.
This was even the basis the title for a 2014 interview with The Telegraph: I Can’t Drink Martinis Anymore But Life Is Bliss, where he quipped “That was Sean’s Bond, mine never ordered a martini.” His family reports that his death was ultimately the result of a “brief battle with cancer,” leading one to assume it was independent of the prostate cancer he previously bounced back from.