Sir Roger Moore, the third actor to portray James Bond and the longest serving in the role—and someone whose onscreen characters would make any gearhead jealous—has passed away at age 89 from a brief battle with cancer, according to his family.
Besides Bond, Moore is perhaps best known for his role in The Saint from 1962 to 1969 and The Persuaders! from 1971 to 1972. After initially being the first choice to replace Sean Connery in the role of James Bond for 1969's On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he instead became the third actor to play James Bond over 12 years and seven movies, riding the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly right to the fall of the wall.
No other actor brought as much of their own personally to the Bond role as Roger Moore, lightening the mood and, for the first time, not taking the Bond series too seriously. He brought a levity to the franchise without undermining the often politically potent messages of his films—even if some of his films are today considered to have gone a bit too far in that direction.
Yet his Bond was warm with audiences yet cold in the face of on-screen Cold War villains, best summed up by the finale of Octopussy, where he defuses a stolen nuclear warhead planted in a German circus show in full dress as a clown.
Sir Roger’s greatest lifetime achievement remains his advocacy and involvement with UNICEF, being appointed a goodwill ambassador in 1991. The UNICEF website cites him as “a compelling voice on issues such as HIV/AIDS, landmine injuries and iodine deficiency” as well as childhood welfare, receiving a knighthood for his humanitarian efforts in 2003.
Moore was an unquestionable man of style, from his suits to his rides. He piloted a Volvo P1800 in The Saint, an Aston Martin DBS in The Persuaders!, an AMC Hornet in The Man With The Golden Gun, the classic Lotus Esprit and Esprit Turbo in The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only, a damn space shuttle in Moonraker, and an Alfa Romeo GTV6 in Octopussy.
At a time where the world returns to fear-driven division, tension, pettiness and war, the magnetism, charisma and charity of Sir Roger Moore will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.