The actor Sir Roger Moore has died at 89 after “a short but brave battle with cancer,” according to his family and his agent.
Moore played the role of James Bond from 1973 to 1985 and was knighted in his home country of England in 2003.
He was the third of six actors who have played James Bond in the official silver screen franchise, beginning with 1973’s Live and Let Die. He starred in a total of seven Bond films over 12 years, ending with A View to a Kill in 1985.
Moore embraced the Bond legend for decades afterward; none of the other Bonds burnished the legend as lovingly as he did. He published four books about his time as Agent 007, all of them with a sense of humor — especially about stepping into the shoes that Sean Connery made famous.
Some Bond fans thought early on that Moore was far too pretty for the role. In his 2008 memoir, My Word is My Bond, he calls the character “a lover and a giggler,” and he told NPR’s Scott Simon in 2014 that his Bond looked “as though I’d squeeze them to death with love and lust.”
Bond certainly wasn’t Moore’s first role as a man of action. He got practice in making secret break-ins and daring escapes over seven seasons on the 1960s British TV series The Saint. He played Simon Templar, a criminal mastermind who steals from the evil and the corrupt.
Roger Moore was born on Oct. 14, 1927, in London and raised by two working-class parents, to whom he was very close. He was an only child — he would joke that his parents attained perfection on their first try. Throughout his long life, Moore appeared to lead a charmed existence — he even titled a memoir One Lucky Bastard.
He was married four times and lived abroad for decades as a tax exile. He met just about everyone — from Frank Sinatra to crowned heads across Europe. He partied with Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris and Peter Finch. He was knighted in 2003 for his humanitarian work with UNICEF.
In an early and never-filmed movie script, Moore read a line that stayed with him the rest of his life. “My attitude about death is, going into the next room, and it’s a room the rest of us can’t go into because we don’t have the key, but when we do get the key, we’ll go in there and we’ll see one another again.”
Roger Moore is survived by his wife, Kristina Tholstrup, and three children. He died Tuesday in Switzerland, according to his children.