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Roger Moore (1927 - 2017)

Getty / Keith Hamshere

Roger Moore (1927 - 2017)

Roger Moore, the English actor known throughout the world for his turn as James Bond, died Tuesday, May 23, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 89.

Born Oct. 14, 1927, Moore showed an early interest in the performing arts, studying for two terms at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alongside future Bond co-star Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny. He was conscripted into British armed forces shortly after the end of World War II at the age of 18 and eventually was promoted to captain.


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After his discharge, he resumed acting and modeling. In 1954, he signed a seven-year contract with MGM. After supporting roles in a series of lackluster films such as "Interrupted Melody" (1955) and "Diane" (1956), he headed to television.

Moore had starring roles in "Ivanhoe" (1958-1959), "The Alaskans" (1959-1960) and "Maverick" (1960-1961). In 1962, he finally achieved his big breakthrough, playing Simon Templar, a thief who only steals from criminals, in "The Saint" (1962-1969). The British series was popular overseas and earned Moore an international following.

The producers of the James Bond films first approached Moore to play the world's most famous spy during the late 1960s after Sean Connery announced he would retire from the role. Unfortunately, commitments to television series kept Moore from accepting the part until "Live and Let Die" in 1973.

Moore's Bond was lighter, suaver and wittier than Connery's original. This recipe proved successful for seven films over the course of 12 years, including box office hits "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) and "Moonraker" (1979). However, by the release of "A View to a Kill" in 1985, Moore was 58 and felt he was too old to portray an action hero realistically. As the longest-tenured Bond, he helped the franchise survive the loss of Connery and established himself as a charismatic and likable presence despite the sometimes-uneven quality of the films themselves.

Post-Bond, Moore continued to make appearances in films, often poking fun at his Bond persona. He was also a noted talk show guest and raconteur, delighting audiences with his self-deprecating humor. In 1991, he became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and lent his celebrity status to animal welfare campaigns against foie gras. He was knighted as a commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2003 in recognition of his charity work.

Moore is survived by his fourth wife, Kristina Tholstrup, as well as three children from a previous marriage.

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