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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Roger Moore: Double-O heaven
Bob Chaundy
BBC News Profiles Unit

Roger Moore
Roger Moore: Knighted for his charity work
Veteran James Bond star Roger Moore has been made a knight for his work for children's charity Unicef.

Roger Moore's career has gone a long way since he first appeared on television as a knight called Ivanhoe.

Last month he appeared on stage in West End hit The Play What I What I Wrote, but it was not his acting that hit headlines.

"I seem to have fainted, old boy," he said, as he came round after collapsing on stage.

Within hours, he had been fitted with a heart pace-maker.

It was the kind of English understatement, doubtless delivered with his trademark raised eyebrow, that typified his portrayal of the secret-agent, James Bond.

But the cut-glass accent belies modest beginnings. Roger Moore was born in 1927 in the London suburb of Stockwell.

The son of a policeman, he left school at 15 in the hope of becoming an artist.

But a chance opportunity to become a film extra began his love-affair with the silver screen.

Roger Moore with Dorothy Squires
The budding star went with Dorothy Squires to the US
He studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) in London, but, initially, found acting roles hard to come by.

He had a short-lived marriage to a fellow Rada student, Doorn van Steyn, whom he left for the singer, Dorothy Squires, popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Squires took him to the United States where he made his film debut with Elizabeth Taylor in The Last Time I Saw Paris. He was also Lana Turner's leading man in Diane.

Confounded the critics

But it was in television back home in England that Roger Moore got his real break. After Ivanhoe came The Saint.

As its hero, Simon Templar, Roger Moore developed the debonair character, with a propensity towards violence if necessary, that was a blueprint for his subsequent Bond character.

Indeed, Moore was considered for the first James Bond film, Dr No, in 1962, but was judged too pretty. But when Sean Connery tired of the role, Moore picked up the reins, and gave the character a more humorous side.

Roger Moore confounded the critics and was readily accepted by audiences everywhere, breaking all box-office records.

Roger Moore with Gloria Hendry in Live and Let Die
Moore made his Bond debut with Gloria Hendry in Live and Let Die
In all, he starred in seven Bond films, from Live and Let Die in 1973, to A View To a Kill in 1985.

After an acrimonious split with Dorothy Squires, Moore lived with Italian, Luisa Mattioli. They were unable to marry until 1969 when Dorothy Squires finally agreed to a divorce.

The couple had three children but, after 38 years, they too split up and, last year, Moore married his fourth wife, Kiki Tholstrup.

In the meantime, Roger Moore became a tireless campaigner against cruelty to children in his role as a special ambassador to the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef.

Roger Moore believes his Unicef experience has brought new meaning and purpose to his life.

On learning of his impending knighthood, he said: "I accept this title on behalf of the many thousands of volunteers and workers at Unicef who dedicate their lives to helping the millions of children in need around the world today."


Royal roll call
Roger Moore, David Beckham and Jamie Oliver are honoured by the Queen.


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