James Bond fans everywhere, raise an eyebrow in tribute: Sir Roger Moore has died. According to a statement released by his children earlier today on Twitter, the actor died after a “short but brave battle with cancer.” He was 89.
Moore was best known for his Bond — no mean feat, given the size of the shoes he had to fill. His interpretation of the role was fascinating, in retrospect: he took Connery’s suaveness, but added a certain vulnerability, a softness that’s rarely been apparent in Bond since. (Daniel Craig’s gritty humanity probably comes closest, but Moore’s was a gentler brand of vulnerability.) He also embraced the role’s silliness in full, so much so that his films occasionally verged on Carry On levels of camp:
(This, if it’s not clear, is a compliment. The Carry On films are awesome.)
Casual fans might not be aware that his entry to the Bond franchise came in the third decade of his career; he started work as a model when he was only 18, and made his TV debut in 1949 at the age of 22. He signed a contract with MGM in 1954, and then with Warner Bros in 1959, but found most success on the small screen in the early part of his career. He played a Bond-esque character in the TV adaptation of The Saint, starting in 1962, Television kept him busy throughout the 1960s, and he was 45 when he finally took the Britain’s favorite spy.
He spent 12 years in the role, making seven films, the last of which was 1985’s A View to a Kill. He was 58 when he retired from Bond-dom, making him the oldest actor to play the role to date. After he left the franchise, it took him five years to appear in another film (1990’s Fire, Ice and Dynamite.) He worked only sporadically afterwards, with perhaps his most prominent appearance being in the 1997 Spice Girls movie Spice World. He is survived by his fourth wife, Kristina Tholstrup, and his three children.