Roger Moore: The Spy with a Kind Heart


Vanessa Obioha

Call him the suavest of all Ian Fleming’s James Bond character and you won’t be wrong. Since his unfortunate passing on May 23, the word ‘suave’ has repeatedly been used to describe Roger Moore.

Fans, critics, friends will remember him for the panache he interpreted the role during his 12-year contract. Featuring in seven movies of the franchise, Moore was a darling on screen. He may not have all the energetic and muscular traits of Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, being the oldest Bond character to play the role. He was 45 years old when he took the reins from Sean Connery who joined the franchise at age 37. But what Moore had, he delivered with precision.

He gave his character a romantic persona that suddenly made Bond the most adorable man to fall in love with. Buttering it with his tongue-in-cheek lines and accents, Moore became an idolised character.

His first Bond film ‘Live and Let Die’ (1973) occupies the fifth position in a list of the Highest Grossing Bond Films, according to an 007 James Bond site. The site also listed Moore as one of the highest grossing actors of the franchise. His average gross per Bond film was $550, 833, 151, right behind Sean Connery whose gross is $724, 882, 426.

Early Life and Career
Born to Lily Pope and George Alfred Moore, Moore’s first taste of the reel world was in the 1945 film ‘Caesar and Cleopatra’ where he was hired as an extra. He would move on to Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to study and at 18. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant. He would later become a captain in West Germany after serving as an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment Section.
After three years in the army, he returned to the screen, working as a model for a variety of products advertisements. However, his first appearance on TV was in Patrick Hamilton’s ‘The Governess’. He went on to sign a seven-year contract with MGM in 1954 which did little to boost his fame. He featured in other films and TV series but the movie that brought him international acclaim was the film adaptation of ‘The Saint’ where he played Simon Templar. It was here that Moore’s suave and quipping style was first brought to limelight. He grew tired of the role and quickly jumped to make two films: ‘Crossplot’ and ‘The Man who Haunted Himself’ after the series ended in its sixth season. The latter was said to be the best role he had played in any film. ‘The Persuaders’ also fetched him more fame until in 1975 when he joined the Bond family.

Humanitarian Activities
After he left the Bond franchise in 1985, he stayed away from the big screen until his friend, actress Audrey Hepburn steered him into a pivotal role.
He was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on August 9,1991. Moore was a steadfast advocate for children, visiting UNICEF-supported programmes around the world, bringing attention to child crisis issues enlisting support and donations. His early missions to Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala, showed him the desperate conditions faced by many of the world’s children and the breadth of UNICEF’s work in the field. He was a compelling voice on issues such as HIV/AIDS, landmine injuries and iodine deficiency. As the honorary chair of Kiwanis International’s Worldwide Service Project – a key UNICEF partner – he helped raise US$91 million for the elimination of iodine deficiency.

An eloquent speaker and fund-raiser, Moore helped introduce a number
of major UNICEF initiatives. In 1995, for example, he launched the “Check out for Children” programme, a partnership with Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, which has raised more than US$16 million to support life-saving immunization programmes for children throughout the world.

He extended his humanitarian work to Africa. With his wife Kristina, he visited Alexandria, Egypt in 1999, to celebrate the children’s camp for the Convention of the Rights of Children (CRC). He also undertook a five-day mission to Ghana in 2000. He was accompanied by some UNICEF corporate partners and representatives of the United Kingdom National Committee for UNICEF. Moore, his wife Kristina and his team visited a number of UNICEF-supported projects both in Accra and on the outskirts of the city. He also attended a national immunization campaign (“Kick Polio out of Africa”). Moore died in his home in Switzerland after a brave battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and children.