Roger Moore has died at age 89, after what a statement from his family called “a short but brave battle with cancer.”*
To say that Moore was best remembered for playing James Bond, which he did in seven films from 1973 to 1985, is like saying Mark Hamill is best remembered as Luke Skywalker. He was so identified with the role and it loomed so large over the rest of his career that he might as well have actually been 007—and if you grew up in the 1970s or ’80s, he was. Eventually, you found your way back to the early movies and discovered Sean Connery’s more hot-blooded take on Ian Fleming’s character, which now stands as its definitive incarnation. But Moore embodied the archetype of suave superspy, quick with the ladies and a just-this-side-of-corny quip, and he left his own indelible mark.
Before Bond, Moore had already created another iconic character in the TV version of Leslie Charteris’ The Saint, which ran for 118 episodes from 1962 to 1969, but afterwards, his most iconic character was himself. In three of his last four live-action film appearances, he plays “Roger Moore,” a role he’d settled into with easy and long-running grace. He spent much of his last decades devoting himself to charities like UNICEF, and when he knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003, it was his charity work, not his film career, that he was cited for.
Moore is survived by his wife, Kristina Tholstrup, and three children. A private funeral will be held in Monaco.
*Correction, May 23: This post original misquoted the statement from Moore’s family.