Sir Roger Moore is probably best known for his portrayal of the
famous British spy James Bond in seven films starring Ian
Fleming’s creation. Fans outside the U.S. may be familiar
with Moore from his popular British television series
“Ivanhoe,” “The Saint” and “The
Persuaders.” If you asked him for what he best wishes to be
remembered, he would probably talk about his longest-running role
as a Special Representative with UNICEF. All this and more is
covered in his memoir, MY WORD IS MY BOND.
Moore’s birth was not an easy one. He also had to deal
with many serious illnesses as a child and even had last rites
administered at one point during a serious bout of pneumonia.
Fortunately, he was able to overcome these obstacles and actually
perform very well in school. He was immediately drawn to the cinema
and could be found regularly there, following the escapades of all
his favorite stars. Things changed drastically in 1939 when, at age
12, he was evacuated with most of London’s children to the
countryside in order to avoid the blitzkrieg bombings of Word War
II, which left quite an impression on him.
After the war, Moore got his first break into show business as
an aspiring animator, following in the footsteps of his hero, Walt
Disney. At age 17 he had the opportunity to act as a film extra and
was bitten by the acting bug. While pursuing a professional acting
career, he was called into active service with the British army.
Following officer training, he was sent to Germany to lead troops
as a full-fledged officer. His love of acting became known, and he
was soon transferred to the entertainment ranks with the Combined
Services Entertainment Unit. It was here that he met another actor
who later became a great friend of his, David Niven.
Moore’s film career eventually took him to America, where
he signed a long-term contract to work exclusively for MGM in
Hollywood. One of his highlights at the studio was getting the
opportunity to work with Niven on The King’s Thief.
A few movies later, mostly flops, Moore was fired from MGM and free
to pursue other options. He decided to pack up and return to
England, where he promptly was hired to act in a play by Noel
Coward that actually sent him to New York. His next move was into
the realm of television, and in 1956 he began his first big role on
the small screen in “Ivanhoe.”
His star was again on the rise, and he signed on with Warner
Brothers Studios in 1958. This brought him both film and television
acting opportunities, including a recurring role on James
Garner’s popular series, “Maverick.” After a few
disappointing Italian-made movies, Moore received the call that
would alter his career forever --- to return to British television
to play Simon Templar in “The Saint.” Following several
successful years in this role, he wanted a change and stepped into
another TV series, “The Persuaders,” co-starring Tony
Curtis. Alas, this show never made it in the U.S. and was only a
hit abroad. Moore then received another life-changing call --- this
one from Albert Cubby Broccoli --- offering him the chance to
replace Sean Connery in the role of James Bond.
Moore’s first James Bond flick, 1973’s Live and
Let Die, was a huge success and also featured the biggest hit
song ever from a Bond film (courtesy of Paul McCartney and Wings).
Next up was the chance to act with his old friend, Christopher Lee,
in The Man with the Golden Gun. But the biggest Bond movie
of the Roger Moore series was his third outing, The Spy Who
Loved Me. Critics, though, accused Moore of being too soft for
the role and attacked its lighthearted moments. Things got worse
with Moonraker, which had nothing to do with the Ian
Fleming novel of the same name and contained some embarrassingly
comic moments. Following A View with a Kill, Moore was
finished with James Bond. The passing of Albert Broccoli also
signified an end to this part of his film career.
Post-Bond, Moore found his next calling at the invitation of his
old friend, Audrey Hepburn, who invited him to a UNICEF function.
He was immediately taken with what he saw while traveling with
UNICEF and decided to devote himself exclusively to charity work.
During his time as a Special Representative, Moore learned that he
had cancer, an illness that had taken so many of his friends. At
the time of writing this memoir in 2007, he found himself as an
80-year old man, happily married to his fourth wife and living with
her two children.
MY WORD IS MY BOND is written in an honest voice, and you really
get the feeling that Sir Roger Moore is speaking directly to you.
There are dozens of anecdotes featuring some of the biggest stars
of stage, screen and television, as well as many pranks that the
always-joking Moore was a part of. Moore comes across as a total
gentleman and a very well-liked individual who has been so
fortunate to have gained worldwide fame through his work. The final
chapter of the book is entitled “Around the World In Eighty
Years” and contains an alphabetical listing of all the
countries he has experienced thanks to his UNICEF work. In this
memoir, Moore proves that he is much more than James Bond, and the
impact he has had during his 80 years has been quite
Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 12, 2011