Roger Moore

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Last Update : 30/4/15

Like most children of the 60’s I first became aware of Roger Moore in his role as Simon Templar, the Saint, the fictional hero of the novels written by Leslie Charteris.

Perhaps more than even his dashing debonair ways, his impeccable looks and his on screen insouciance, I was attracted to his comedic skills and in particular his way of imbuing the phrase “but darling….” with such a wonderful ring of insincerity. His onscreen female partners patently believed in him which of course made his characterisations even more appealing because in real life, women are much too street savvy for such folly. Later in his career and moving into his fifties, he recognised the march of time, gently rebuffing the advances of a teenage actress in one of his latter day Bond movies with the encouraging words “Yes, well, you put your clothes on, and I’ll buy you an ice cream.”

He enjoyed worldwide fame as The Saint and thereafter James Bond 007 inheriting the shoes vacated by Sean Connery and extended his lifespan as a leading man until he was nearly sixty. Since that time he has appeared in mainly cameo roles in film and television productions, starred in some hilarious commercials and worked tirelessly as a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef. He is greatly admired in the industry for his punctuality, commitment, amiability, self deprecating manner and one would be hard pressed to find anybody who has a bad word professionally to say about him. He has battled bowel cancer and at eighty four still leads a fairly active lifestyle. This autumn he is touring Britain doing a one man show where he will be interviewed on stage and take questions from his audience. He divides his time between homes in Switzerland and Monaco and received a knighthood from the Queen in 2003.

By his own admission he is not a great actor but he is a great movie star and still eminently recognisable around the world. He has probably only cinematically stretched himself twice in his career. The first of these celluloid ventures was “The Man who haunted himself,” a comparatively low budget film first released in 1970 which subsequently showed up on BBC schedules throughout the remainder of the decade and then disappeared into oblivion; an underserved postscript to a worthy effort. Towards the end of his tenureship as 007 he appeared as a psychiatrist in “The Naked face.”

As a movie star, he displayed admirable humility in 1991 when he backed out at the last minute from what would have been his West End singing debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Aspects of love.” When he subsequently discussed his pitching problems many people incorrectly interpreted his concerns as deficiencies in his singing voice. What concerned him was the absence of any “bell note” in certain numbers. Coming into a production number ‘sans accompaniment’ and remaining in pitch with the orchestra four bars later is a daunting prospect. My own pitching is admirable, but nowhere near perfect. In a crowded club I can veer off to the tune of -5% – +5%. When performing numbers that began with vocals only, I would always reference myself with a lightly plucked guitar chord (bell note) inaudible to my audience. Roger would have had no comparable lifebelt, and accordingly lost his nerve.

2012 marks his twenty first anniversary as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and the popular British actor and humanitarian is still going strong in his starring role as an advocate for the world’s most vulnerable children.

“I’ve been an exceedingly lucky actor, and the luck of it all was that I was able to come and work for UNICEF,” Sir Roger has said. “I think that working with UNICEF has taught me humility. I realize that when I was trotting around the world as 007 I did not appreciate how the other half lives – in fact, it’s more than half.” Since his appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador in August 1991, Sir Roger has visited UNICEF-supported programmes around the world, bringing attention to children’s needs and enlisting widespread public support and donations. He has given compelling voice to a range of issues, from HIV/AIDS to landmine injuries, disability rights, iodine deficiency and more.

In November 2001, he helped launch the partnership between UNICEF and FIFA, the world governing body of football, which includes a focus on preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS among young people.

At the same time, he played a key part in promoting Kiwanis International’s Worldwide Service Project, which has raised more than $90 million for eliminating iodine deficiency, the primary cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage.

Sir Roger received the World Service Medal from Kiwanis for that work.

It goes without saying therefore, that this is a man who not only appreciates the lifestyle his fame has afforded him, but has also felt compelled to devote the last third of his life to a worthy cause. It is this public perception of his social conscience, allied to an affable public demeanour, charm and discretion that has enabled him to withstand periodic media scrutiny about his private life.

Like with so many public personalities I only know what I have read third hand from various sources. Nevertheless certain facts are irrefutable. He has been married four times and all his three children were by his third wife. As with Sean Connery, various permutations emerge about Sir Roger’s private life. Perhaps he has been (a) remarkably restrained man with the ladies in an industry noted for its promiscuity, (b) active but particularly discreet whilst engendering a similar response from his partners, or © has benefited from a combination of both factors. The overriding impression is one of restraint amidst temptation. In Moore’s case, the fly in the ointment is a penchant for periodically uprooting himself from one current domestic situation for greener pastures elsewhere. He was in his mid twenties when he embarked on his second marriage to the highly successful British singing star, Dorothy Squires. She was by then in her late thirties and it was for both of them their second marriage. With her many show business contacts she was undoubtedly of great value to the struggling actor in his efforts to break into the Hollywood big league. As posterity would have it, Moore secured regular television work in the States, most notably in the long running series Maverick but big screen approval eluded him. Moore left her in 1961 when he fell in love with Louisa Matteoli, a fiery Italian actress on the set of a movie he was making. For Dorothy Squires, it signalled the beginning of a heartbreak that would envelop her for the rest of her life.

The Yorkshire Post published a concise synopsis of her life thereafter and the article can be located at

http://www.bulterman.eu/Squires/dorothy_squires.htm\

A further resource charting Moore’s marital breakups can be located at

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-487366/Why-did-saint-Roger-Moore-break-hearts.html\

The article states that Squires, who was already 38 when Moore married her, had suffered a series of miscarriages and was never able to carry a pregnancy beyond three months. Moore was later to say that, had he and Squires had children, he might have made a different decision over their marriage. Taken at face value, this appears to be a rather callous confession but with my experience of women there is the distinct possibility that Squires never told Moore of her miscarriages and quizzed by him over her childless first union attributed her barren years to the demands of her professional career. The poor woman may still have harbored aspirations of motherhood and with the natural insecurities associated with marriage to a much younger man saw fit to protect her own interests. This plausible explanation would have fueled resentment on the actor’s part and linked inextricably to an innate desire to have children by his mid thirties, inevitably led to the marital break- up. Of course, he may have known or greatly surmised her position when he wed but at that stage in his life his career was paramount in his mind. I am unable to comment further on this point.

After well over thirty years with his third wife, Moore’s well ordered and luxurious lifestyle came under fire from the threat of bowl cancer, and as such it engendered a reassessment of his life.

On pages 282-3 of his autobiography he writes;

“I tumbled over and over into a well of self pity and anger. It was the sight of my body limping its way to the bathroom with a great plastic bag attached to the other end of the garden hose that gave me the despair of inadequacy. I felt emasculated. I know I must have been completely impossible to live with – the more I complained as I wallowed in self pity, the more Louisa started snapping back. When feeling fine, I was quite capable of handling outbursts of Italian temperament – I had been for a number of years. However these new and unwanted circumstances left me unable to cope.”

He goes onto add that

“I had plenty of time to think about my life and how close I had been to losing it. It was not very admirable behaviour I admit, but the seeds for life change had been planted and were beginning to grow.”

I have always been rather sceptical of all those stories of stoicism in the face of life threatening illnesses. For sure, there will be individuals who react better than others, who see their predicament as an opportunity to prioritise their life and to actively learn more about their illness. I just struggle with the notion of individuals who are overheard to say “why not me?” Moore was at least refreshingly candid about his own predicament.

I have wallowed in abject self pity once in my life to a point where I could not consider anyone’s welfare but my own. Emotionally, it’s a dead end. I am not one for making excuses for myself and I have to apply the same approach to others. What is patently apparent in life is that there is always someone just around the corner ready to step into either your own or your partner’s shoes.

His wife was Italian and neither ‘demure’ nor ‘shrinking violet’ are terminologies readily applied to persons of such descent. Curiously, he may initially have found her temperament very exciting and different. Nobody held me at gun point when I married my wife, and I can presume Roger Moore experienced a similar scenario. Nevertheless, despite the obvious jokes regarding any communication problem, the following link is testimony to his endeavours in learning his wife’s native tongue. This impressive linguistic appearance on Italian television in the programme CANZONISSIMA 1974, was recorded shortly after principal photography on Gold was completed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT0rr3gaqWI\

The songwriter Leslie Bricuse, in his autobiography “The Music Man” (2006), provides an interesting insight into the Moore’s marriage on pages 137-139. Having planned a leisurely yachting trip down the Thames with Bricusse and their wives stopping only on route for lunch, Roger was perplexed to find that the boat generously offered by Volvo was in fact a dinghy-sized open vessel barely ten feet in length. Moore overcame his wife’s initial expletives before suggesting they continue with their plans whereupon he spent much of the day good naturedly passing autograph books back to larger yacht owners at each lock-gate as they observed the curious small boat from the comfort of their chaises-longues. Needless to say with the boating gridlock, serving time at the restaurant was missed whilst Moore endured further menacing dark Italian threats like “stupido” and “cretino.” This incident displayed his good humour and affability and his wife’s inability to laugh at her predicament. Suitably humiliated in her own eyes, she would still be returning to a jet set lifestyle at the end of the day so was her behaviour truly called for? Who can say, but enough public ridiculing in front of close friends wears thin over many years; Luisa would have been best advised to have aired her thoughts at the close of day. I have found one of my wife’s most endearing and enduring qualities to be her ability to “lose it” one minute and then burst out laughing at herself as I look on non-plussed. So long as we are “communicating” rather than merely “talking” all these type of incidences merely form part of our dinner table comic reminiscenses and little else. Not an easy trick to perform, and harder still over decades. It’s no wonder Moore opted for a more tranquil existence in the end, but what did he do to fully emphasise to his wife the unhappiness he would feel at moments like these? If there were unsufficient heart to heart moments it is not unreasonable to presume that deep down, Louisa believed the dynamics of their relationship still worked after more than thity years. Ultimately she would receive just one phone call from Moore terminating the marriage.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2202445/Why-did-Roger-Moores-wives-beat-As-revealed-Bond-star-victim-domestic-violence.html

The third Mrs Moore had borne him three children. Amidst her histrionics and perceived lack of understanding she may well still have wiped his bottom when the fateful day arrived where he was unable to complete this most basic of bodily functions for himself. She was reportedly devastated at the end of her marriage and for many people the perceived greener pastures are little more than a new set of problems and often worse ones. When I am researching my commentaries, I am literally assaulted by advertising pop ups for dating agencies. Fall in love tomorrow with someone you literally know nothing about, and probably never will until it’s too late. Perhaps the trick lies in seriously analysing what it was that first attracted you to your present partner before life got in the way. Who knows? In any event, Moore found comfort in a fellow cancer sufferer and one can easily surmise how the conversation flowed between them. There is the possibility that his new ‘confidante’ pointed out to him that his wife was doing her best whilst struggling with the situation and that clearly she must still love him. This of course is a possibility and equally possible is the notion that the man used his illness to underpin a course of course of action he had wanted to undertake for some time. Equally, the new woman may also have chosen to empathise in a way only a fellow sufferer can, to soothe the man’s brow and to appear the paragon of understanding. What we can say with absolute certainty is that Roger Moore was not amongst that 1% of men who moved out of his matrimonial home to live alone.

Some indication of events leading up to the marriage breakup can be found at

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1369755/Roger-Moore-pays-wife-10m-in-divorce-deal.html\

The article contains revalations of how ‘Kiki”, a friend Louisa had nursed through breast cancer, obsessively pursued her husband between the South of France and America. Luisa said that the first time “Kiki” walked into her villa in the South of France she exclaimed: “I would give anything for a house like this.” In retrospect, she should, she said, have taken more heed of her words as “she wanted to become me.”

Luisa, who eventually agreed to her husband’s request for a divorce, is said to be upset at the way her friend wanted to know all the details of her lifestyle – the Gstaad chalet, the St Paul de Vence villa, the Eaton Square flat and the Hollywood Hills house – and of their friendships with Frank Sinatra and Gregory Peck. Then, according to Luisa, she adopted large parts of them as her own. She has since scorned her as “a hanger-on who has had two husbands and three facelifts.”

Needless to say, none of his three children were present at his fourth marriage ceremony.

The event took place a few weeks after his divorce was finalised. I cannot comment here. I don’t understand the fascination with multiple marriages. There are tax planning strategies available in abundance and no obstacles in the way of a committed relationship. At what point should anyone take serious stock of their strengths and weaknesses, and resolve not to repeat themselves?

It has been reported that prior to his fourth nuptials, his divorce from Louisa had cost him £10m, half his estimated fortune and therein lies a damning indictment on the differences between men and women. With exceptions of course because there can be no universal rule amongst the sexes, men have the money and women have sex, and these two important tools are traded vigorously in the open “relationship market.” Of course, women rarely see sufficient virtue in a man worth risking a hard earned fortune over, but men will give away multiple fortunes to a litany of women if they’re stupid enough.

Moore professes to be “happier than words can express” in his personal life since his fourth marriage in 2002, and who am I to argue? But Edward VIII made similar proclamations about Wallis Simpson after the British Government posted him to the Bahamas as Governor, thus depriving him of any meaningful role in the affairs of his country. At a time when his sole concern was assisting his brother over affairs of state, he found himself consigned to vacuous dinner parties amongst the financially elite thousands of miles away from his homeland. Abdication was one thing, but marriage to Wallis was surely never going to strip him of any useful purpose in life? He lived to learn, and to deny thoughts of regret when challenged by his wife; essentially an existence millions of men who have forsaken family and duty in order to remarry can relate to. Finally, what of his third wife? To the best of my knowledge she has not remarried. Several close friends of the couple have forsaken her since the split. She fell in love with this man when she was twenty eight. She dealt with the agony of her Catholicism in living with Roger for seven years before marriage was possible. They experienced the joy of bringing children into the world and the sleepless nights associated with infants. They fretted together when one of their siblings was ill, built a home for themselves and reached a point with the children off their hands to resume some semblance of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. She reputedly kept a close eye on him when he was working and in fairness, he may have grown tired of “flying plates” during domestic scenes. In his autobiography Moore alludes to the pressures of maintaining a lavish lifestyle and a need to ease off the accelerator, a thought brought on by his mother’s heart attack. Did he air these thoughts, and were they met by unreceptive ears? We can but speculate. Nevertheless, walking away from a thirty three year relationship is certainly something I struggle to get my head around.

Interviewed a while back about the secret to a good relationship the actor replied “If I knew, I wouldn’t have been married four times. I don’t know if my marriages taught me how to be a particularly good husband. I imagine I can be a pretty rotten one sometimes but I am very happy now.”

In 2009, Sir Roger paid £300 for a blue Heritage plaque to be fixed to the council house in Dafen, Carmarthenshire, where his second wife Dorothy Squires lived as a child. The always colourful Dot was born in a horse-drawn caravan at Pontyberem, eight miles away. Beyond doubt, old age brings with it a sense of wistfulness and regret, and the sound of creaking limbs does little to lighten the tone of those quiet introspective moments.

Recommended listening

Desert Island Discs (25/7/81)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p009mtyb

In London for the premiere of the Bond film “For Your Eyes Only,” ‘Rog’ hooked up with Roy Plomley to discuss solitude and his favourite music.

Recommended viewing

There are many other highly enjoyable mainstream movies in which he has appeared but the following 2 roles stretched his abilities.

The Man who haunted himself (1970)

Inspired by a short story from the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and directed by Basil Dearden with a flair for understated realism, Moore stretches himself in the role of Harold Pelham, a businessman living in comfortable suburbia with his wife and children who is declared momentarily dead after a car crash. After his release from hospital the realisation eventually dawns on Pelham that he is either being stalked by a doppleganger or is losing his mind. As Moore’s character spirals out of control his sanity is further tested when an alleged mistress provides him with photographic evidence of his presence at a location he has never been to. Dearden expertly piles on the pressure as the film builds to a thrilling climax in which both the truth & fate of Harold Pelham will be resolved once and for all. Moore excels in the final scenes which remain impressive for their day with an imaginative juxtaposition of colour, camera angles and superimposed images as Pelham meets his alter ego in the hallway of his home.

The actor evidently retains an affection for this production and recently contributed an audio commentary for the film’s long overdue digital restoration.

The Naked Face (1984)

Moore plays a psychoanalyst in fear of his life in the film adaptation of the bestselling novel by Sidney Sheldon. ‘The Naked face’ was Sheldon’s first novel following a successful career as a writer for stage musicals and tv light entertainment shows such as “I dream of Jeannie” and “Hart to Hart.”

It’s an understated performance devoid of humorous inflections, and suggests a direction in which the actor felt his career might progress post Bond (he had one final outing as 007 still to film.) The original novel still has its plaudits, but some of its colloquial slang is rather dated nowadays and Sheldon’s work improved dramatically in the ensuing years. ‘The Naked face’ received muted notices and did average business, but was another indication of the actor’s willingness to break typecasting, if not consistently, then at least spasmodically.

Live and Let die (1973)

There’s a lack of narrative cohesion, some thinly veiled racism, and a no show from the man himself in the pre-credit title sequence. Q is conspicuous by his absence and we are spared the traditional formal briefing in M’s office.

Heralding in the post Connery era, ‘Live & let Die’ has a new feel. There’s a freshly slimlined Moore with chiselled cheekbones, razor sharp haircut and plenty of one liners, spectacular set pieces, and a superb McCartney/Martin score.

Setting the template for a more jocular Bond, Moore sidesteps the Connery landmine with panache to establish his cinematic DNA for the ensuing decade.

Gold (1974)

An old fashioned thriller now available in the public domain after legal wranglings between Moore and the producers, the movie involves a nefarious scheme to control the international price of gold by flooding the country’s largest mine.

Moore is all hard hat and smiles, finding time to both romance the owner’s daughter and save the mine. Elmer Bernstein provides an arresting score but there’s little in Peter Hunt’s direction to deflect attention from the attempted glamourisation of Apartheid South Africa for the American movie-going market.

Shout at the Devil (1976)

A rollicking adventure yarn best seen on the big screen, the film benefits from the obvious on-screen chemistry between Moore & Lee Marvin.

American ex-military man Col. Flynn O’Flynn (Lee Marvin) and wealthy Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore) are unlikely partners in the East African ivory trade. Oldsmith woos O’Flynn’s daughter, Rosa (Barbara Parkins), but on the eve of World War I, the men spend most of their time eluding occupying German troops. When the Germans kill Rosa’s daughter, Oldsmith and both O’Flynns join the battle against German Cmdr. Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff) and his men.

The film’s long running time – 2 hr 30 – necessitated an intermission, whilst neatly drawing a line under an extremely humourous first half that would soon give way to the darker undertones of the last hour.

The Spy who loved me (1977)

The best of Moore´s 007 extravaganzas and the actor’s own personal favourite. The set pieces are superb, Rick Sylvestor´s breathtaking ski jump setting the tone for a two hour rollercoaster ride. Roger is spot on with the one liners, and the film boasts a serious undertone after our man eliminates an enemy agent on the Swiss alps. 007 is all smiles except when pitted against a man suitably aggrieved with his own dentist!

A ten part ‘Open University’ BBC series, charting the making of the film, has surfaced on YouTube, the mediocre VHS quality barely detracting from what was a fascinating series looking at every aspect of the production. Originally broadcast on sunday mornings in the fall of 1977, I remembered it fondly; the interview with the composer, Marvin Hamlisch, particularly poignant in view of his premature passing in 2011.

“The Saint” (ITC 1962-68) 118 episodes

The Pearls of peace (8/11/62)

A rather touching love story.

The Golden Journey (6/12/62)

A tale of “growing up”.

The Saint plays with fire (28/11/63)

An excellent performance from Moore as he tangles with neo-Nazis in early 60’s Britain, featuring some stunning visual photography, particularly the early scenes in the burning mansion.

The Scorpion (29/10/64)

A highly regarded episode from the third season involving blackmail and murder.

The Crime of the Century (4/3/65)

An excellent addition to the filmed cannon featuring an extremely tense safe cracking scene and a superbly choreographed robbery.

The People Importers (22/12/68)

The Saint encounters an illegal immigrant smuggling operation. Enoch Powell would not have been best pleased!

The Persuaders (24 episodes)

A Death in the family – doffing his hat to Alec Guinness and the film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” Moore displays his comedic versatility in playing a number of characters in the Brett family including The General, The Admiral and lady Agatha!

Roger Moore – Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV 2012)

After a near lifetime of good humour and self deprecation, Moore finally faced up to some form of emotional introspection on prime time television. In no mood to be placated, he appears a man troubled by his past actions. His children – in filmed interview segments – have come to terms with his actions, yet his intermittent euologising about his fourth wife is disconcerting. Confirming that his latest union brings him peace and contentment, Moore adds that they don’t argue. The camera pans to his wife who reacts with a look of incredulity; clearly a clever woman and one who can comfortably assuage his daily guilt.

Watching the programme, my wife, who had proof read the text on Moore, was moved to exclaim, “Christ, you’re not going to be far off with these commentaries are you?!”

Recommended reading

Roger Moore – his films and career (Gareth Owen)

My word is my Bond (Roger Moore) 2008

Two thoroughly agreeable volumes focussing heavily on the man’s professional career, jam packed with attractive illustrations and genial movie anecdotes. The second title is also presumably Moore’s first and only literary stab at anything remotely autobiographical and in keeping with his essentially private and discreet demeanour, is woefully short on any personal insights. This is after all a man who has been married four times. The affair with Dorothy Provine (whilst married to Dorothy Squires) is airbrushed, any clues to the worsening relationship with Louisa virtually non existent and attitudes amongst his children to his remarriage predictably ignored. It’s perfectly understandable that people should find it difficult to write about themselves in such a manner but the opportunity exists to put fresh perspective on events to some degree. By his own admission, he has on occasions simply walked out of marriages without any prior warning. I have personally known people who end relationships by text or phone. It’s lamentable behaviour and emotional cowardice of the highest order.

Surfing

Roger Moore Official Site

Youtube – Plenty of chat show appearances, all very good humoured and all very unrevealing. One suspects that there is strict stipulation as to subject areas available for discussion and no presenter to date has broken ranks. It’s highly doubtful anyone will.

http://roger-moore.com\

This is the actor’s official site with some attractive picture galleries, news of forthcoming events and even a monthly Q & A where Sir Roger personally answers six questions each month from his loyal supporters. It’s all rather officially sanctioned and therefore uncontroversial, but in any event little of any real benefit would be achieved in sullying the proceedings. The ex wives are rather air brushed though. It’s as if they never existed.

Sir Roger Moore - A Fansite

http://www.sirrogermoore.net/newsen_11.htm