Wednesday, May 24, 2017

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore.

We mourn the passing of actor Sir Roger Moore, on May 23, 2017, at the age of 89. 

Roger Moore was the personification of British suave… and cool, regardless of the role. 

Beau Maverick, a late but welcome entry to the classic western series MAVERICK, TV’s Simon Templar in THE SAINT (the role I’ve historically associated him with), and my most recent Moore discovery THE PERSUADERS, with Sir Roger so perfectly paired with – and played against – Tony Curtis! 

But, unquestionably Roger Moore’s greatest achievement was making the role of James Bond “his own”, in the wake of Sean Connery’s indelible imprint on Agent 007!  

Indeed, one needn’t press me too hard to get me to admit a preference for Moore over anyone else in the role – especially on the two occasions where he encountered wacky Sheriff J.W. Pepper, played by actor Clifton James, who also passed away earlier this year.  

And “Moonraker”, which I liked so much I parodied the title for a Donald Duck secret agent story - "Tycoonraker". 

On a completely unrelated note, it was Roger Moore who convinced friend David Hedison to take the role of Captain Crane on the weekly television version of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1964-1968), after Hedison had turned down the same role for the previous feature film version of VOYAGE in 1961.  Moore had come to realize the virtues of regular work and pay on a regular series with THE SAINT (1962-1969), and so convinced Hedison.  

Ironically, it was his television work on THE SAINT, and perhaps THE PERSUADERS as well, that LEAD Moore to the cinematic role of Bond.  

  Thank you, Sir Roger Moore, for so many great – and historic – moments!   


Comicbookrehab said...

Hedison always looked like he could play Peter Falk's brother, like a Mycroft Holmes to Columbo's Sherlock. I think that's a missed opportunity. And Falk appeared with Roger Moore on TV at one point..what a crossover!

I prefer "The Persuaders" to "The Saint" on account of the excellent rapport between Moore and Tony Curtis - they play off eachother well.

And Roger Moore is the only Bond who can make a Casio digital wristwatch look like it was worth a million bucks.

scarecrow33 said...

While there is no doubt that Sean Connery was brilliant in the role of Bond, I am not one of those Bond fans who will praise Connery at the expense of Moore. Roger Moore was the James Bond of movies when I was in my late teens and early twenties, the age to appreciate exactly that kind of stuff. "For Your Eyes Only" was the first Bond film I saw in a theatre and it remains one of my top favorites. While his touch of humor and his suave air of drawing room comedy drew disparagement and even condemnation from critics, I considered his approach to the character to be at once sophisticated and endearing. What twenty-something young male wouldn't want to be in the shoes of Moore's Bond? I read one critic who said that Moore seemed to "phone in" his performances, but I think that critic missed the point completely of Moore's tongue-in-cheek style of acting. To me, this made him edgier than most actors in the role, particularly those who followed. Roger Moore was deliberately taking us on an exhilarating thrill ride, and for my money, he always delivered the goods.

Elaine said...

Both of my childhood TV crushes, in one blogpost! Roger Moore as The Saint and David Hedison as Captain Crane. Nice to know they were friends!

The Saint was the ultimate in suavity. As Colonel Potter would say, There aren't enough "O's" in SMOOOOOTH....

Joe Torcivia said...


A “Mycroft” to Columbo’s “Sherlock” would have been an interesting concept. And why not Hedison for such a role?

I’ve almost literally *just* gotten into THE PURSUADERS, a few weeks before Moore died, so I cannot make a true comparison between that series and THE SAINT, but I sure do enjoy the former – and largely for the reason you state.

Joe Torcivia said...


Gotta agree with everything you say! As undeniably great as Connery was, Moore became “my Bond” for the same reasons. As I noted last evening in the “Horror and Sci-Fi Film Appreciation Society” that I attend on Thursday nights, Moore pulled off the great feat of transplanting Simon Templar into James Bond’s body – and MADE IT WORK! Against, what was at the time, all odds, Roger Moore made the role of James Bond “his own”. And (again, at the time) that seemed an impossible feat!

Oh, and the first Bond film *I* saw in a theatre was “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. It’s not everyone who can claim George Lazenby as their “first theatrical Bond”!

Joe Torcivia said...


Can’t argue with your taste in childhood TV crushes! I looked up to them too, though for different reasons, of course. And, as long as we’re revealing crushes, mine were Marta Kristen, Yvonne Craig, and Grace Lee Whitney. Funny how they all were on favorite TV series of mine – both then and now!

TC said...

Supposedly, Warner Brothers assured Moore that he wasn't just a substitute for James Garner as Maverick. Years later, in an anecdote, he quipped, "Oh yeah? Then why did all of my costumes have tags with the name 'Jim Garner' scratched out?" Maybe that experience was helpful in 1973, when he replaced another popular star in a series.

In "Luella," a 1964 episode of The Saint, someone mistakes Simon Templar for James Bond. It was a cute gag, but it turned out to be prophetic. And Moore's pal David Hedison was in that episode, as well as playing Bond's sometime-sidekick, CIA agent Felix Lieter, in Live and Let Die (1973).

"The Ex-King of Diamonds," in the last season of The Saint, teamed him with a brash American partner (Stuart Damon), and was a sort of unofficial pilot for The Persuaders. When the latter series was created, they wanted a big name movie star, so Tony Curtis was hired. (Damon co-starred in the British action-adventure series The Champions in the 1960's, and in the ABC soap opera General Hospital in the 1980's.)

Moore seemed to think he was miscast in North Sea Hijack (aka ffolkes, aka Assault Force), but I thought he was fine as the eccentric security expert who leads a commando team to rescue hostages (including David Hedison!) aboard an oil rig.

The Bond series got sillier and campier in the 1970's, and some critics blamed Sir Roger, saying that it was because he could handle comedy, but not serious drama or action. IMHO, that is nonsense.

The Bond series was already heading in that direction before Sean Connery left. It had little to do with who was playing the part; it was simply because each movie needed to out-do the one before. (It eventually reached its saturation point, so they had to pull back and tone it down, so the Daniel Craig films are grim, serious spy thrillers. The same pattern happened with a lot of action-adventure TV shows in the 1960's, like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea [co-starring the ubiquitous David Hedison] and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)

My favorite quip from Sir Roger was when he was interviewed by Starlog magazine on the set of Octopussy. They asked if he did his own stunts. "Yes. And I also do my own lying."

RIP, Mr. Templar, Lord Sinclair, and Commander Bond/Agent 007. And, although it sounds corny, I just can't resist: when it came to playing a suave, cool action-adventure hero, nobody did it better.

Joe Torcivia said...

I’m really glad to see you back here, TC! I could always count on you for observations that make this Blog a far more interesting place, and today is no exception!

It seems that I’ve enjoyed EVERYTHING that I’ve seen Roger Moore in (…and all the more so, revisiting it – or seeing some of it for the first time – in the age of DVD), starting with Maverick! I never regarded Sir Roger as a “substitute” for James Garner. Moore’s own style simply wouldn’t allow for that. Did he play the role AS “a Maverick”? Yes. But his performance as Beau, as ALL of his performances, was clearly “his own”! …And, “scratched-out costume labels” notwithstanding, if anyone got the short end of the Maverick stick, it was Robert Colbert.

“Luella” (The Saint, 1964) has a lot to recommend, two chief things among them:

David Hedison’s uncharacteristic turns at physical comedy: The nightclub chaos, and the hurriedly getting undressed and scooting under the bed covers before his wife enters the room – the latter is a bit worthy of Dick Van Dyke.

Roger Moore playing the players… with an AMERICAN accent! Just marvelous!

I’d also say it’s a good bet that the conversation between Moore and Hedison, that prompted Hedison to take on the role of TV’s Captain Crane, likely took place during (or around) the filming of “Luella”. Moore was comfortably in the mode of regular TV work at the time, and convinced Hedison of its benefits.

As of today, I had not seen “The Ex-King of Diamonds” or, if I had ages ago, I’d forgotten it. So, I skipped to the end of my DVD set of THE SAINT: THE COMPLETE SERIES and watched it before responding to your comment. (…Even though I’m no longer in “Classic Horrifically Busy” mode, it would still have taken me a VERY LONG TIME to reach that point in the six-season series!)

Oh, yes! It is ever a pilot for The Persuaders! From the British and American “Buddy / Adventurer” model to specific beats from the The Persuaders’ first episode – like the casino / restaurant fights between the two protagonists before they become partners and, especially, the “auto race” between them – with The Saint’s version being cut short due to Simon Templar’s keen observation of a billboard and what that billboard conceals. (No further spoilers, for those who have not seen it!) Moore and the episode’s producer confirm this, and discuss it at length, in the DVD commentary track for the episode.

However, I must admit that, as a lifelong New Yorker, I prefer my brash American oilman to hail from The Bronx (Tony Curtis) over Texas, despite a very enjoyable turn by Stuart Damon. The commentary indicated that it was felt that a more fast-talking Bronx accent would give The Persuaders a quicker pace, over the more laid-back Texan. From what I’ve seen of The Persuaders, I think they got it right.

As far as James Bond is concerned, I completely agree with you on the direction – and that the producers were playing into Moore’s strengths to further get to where they were going anyway. Moore had a great facility for understated comedy, and that worked to great advantage in Maverick, The Saint, The Persuaders… AND the James Bond films!

Again, thanks for returning to our Comments Section, and I hope to see you often, now that this Blog is back in business! …I also hope the same for all of my other “regulars” (…as opposed to the Baker Street Irregulars?) as well!