British actor Roger Moore, who played the role of James Bond in seven of the spy adventures, has died in Switzerland at the age of 89. He passed away after a short battle with cancer.
His family announced the news on Tuesday: “it is with a heavy heart that we announce the death of our loving father, Sir Roger Moore”, they said.
Moore, who played the role of Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007 between 1973 and 1985, had owned a chalet for years in the chic resort of Gstaad. Since 1996, he had lived part of the time in the mountain resort of Crans-Montana in canton Valais. He also owned property in the South of France, and in Monaco, where he was close to Prince Albert.
In 2007, he told Swiss public television, TSR, that he had moved to Switzerland after pressure from his children, who had learned to ski one winter in Gstaad.
"As I am a very weak father, I said yes. In fact, I was waiting for an excuse to leave England and set up in a beautiful place like Switzerland," he said in an interview.
The character of Bond himself was written to be “half Swiss” by Ian Fleming, and some of the most memorable scenes take place in the Alpine nation: George Lazenby pushed a villain into a Schilthorn snow-blower in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969); and a record-setting bungee jump was staged off the Verzasca Dam in Ticino at the start of GoldenEye (1995).
Moore's big breakthrough as an actor came in 1962, when he won the part of "The Saint" (1962-1969) in a popular television series of the same name. He later starred as Simon Templar in the hit series The Persuaders (1971-1972).
Deemed “too handsome” to play in the original Bond movie, a role which went to Sean Connery instead, Moore had to wait until 1973’s “Live and Let Die” to take over the mantle. He held it until “A View to a Kill”, his last Bond film in 1985.
After handing over the role of Bond to Timothy Dalton, Moore went into semi-retirement, living a millionaire's life and travelling between his homes in Los Angeles, Switzerland and the south of France.
From Bond to Ambassador
He became an ambassador for UNICEF in 1991, a role he retained until his death. Married four times, Moore had three children with his third wife, the Italian Luisa Mattioli. He is survived by his fourth wife, Scandinavian socialite Kristina "Kiki" Tholstrup, whom he married in 2002.
“We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF, which he considered to be his greatest achievement,” Moore's family expressed on Tuesday.
Nicolas Féraud, the mayor of Crans Montana, described Moore as an extremely charming personality: "He was easy to talk to and a gentleman just like his famous role."
In a statement, UNICEF wrote, "[We] extend our deepest sympathies to the Moore family, and join his many friends and admirers from around the world in paying tribute to his life and mourning his loss. He will be deeply missed.”