Tributes to James Bond star Sir Roger Moore after short cancer battle
'The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone'
Tributes have been paid to former James Bond star Sir Roger Moore who has died in Switzerland after a short battle with cancer.
Sir Roger was the longest-serving actor to play the womanising MI6 agent, having portrayed 007 in seven films.
In a statement his family said: "It is with a heavy heart that we must announce our loving father, Sir Roger Moore, has passed away today in Switzerland after a short but brave battle with cancer.
"The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone.
"We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who know him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF which he considered to be his greatest achievement."
The statement continued: "The affection our father felt whenever he walked on to a stage or in front of camera buoyed him hugely and kept him busy working into his 90th year, through to his last appearance in November 2016 on stage at London's Royal Festival Hall.
"The capacity crowd cheered him on and off stage, shaking the very foundations of the building just a short distance from where he was born.
"Thank you Pops for being you, and for being so very special to so many people.
"Our thoughts must now turn to supporting Kristina at this difficult time, and in accordance with our father's wishes there will be a private funeral in Monaco."
With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated. pic.twitter.com/6dhiA6dnVg— Sir Roger Moore (@sirrogermoore) May 23, 2017
The statement was signed by Sir Roger's children, Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian.
Meanwhile, a UNICEF spokesperson said: “With the passing of Sir Roger Moore, the world has lost one of its great champions for children – and the entire UNICEF family has lost a great friend.
"In his most famous roles as an actor, Sir Roger was the epitome of cool sophistication; but in his work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, he was a passionate – and highly persuasive – advocate for children. He once said that it was up to all of us to give children a more peaceful future. Together with Lady Kristina, he worked very hard to do so.
“All of us at UNICEF 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.”
A number of famous faces have also taken to social media to express their sadness over Sir Roger's death.
Saddened to hear Sir Roger Moore has passed away. James Bond should never die.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 23, 2017
With great sadness Pinewood learns of the passing of Sir Roger Moore. A force of nature, his humour and spirit will be missed by all of us. pic.twitter.com/Mb1TbjFW0I— Pinewood Studios (@PinewoodStudios) May 23, 2017
Sir Roger was the son of a poor London policeman from the back streets of Lambeth who grew up to become James Bond and The Saint - as one of the most successful actors of his generation.
He won a scholarship to Battersea Grammar School, but at the outbreak of war in 1939 he was evacuated to Worthing in Sussex.
Art was his best and favourite subject and he decided to leave school at the age of 16 to take up a job as an assistant in a London studio specialising in cartoons.
He then tried his hand as a film extra on Caesar and Cleopatra at Denham Studios in 1944, where the co-director Brian Desmond Hurst noticed him not just for his tall good looks but for what he described as animal magnetism.
National Service interrupted his career in 1945 just after the end of the war when he was conscripted into the Royal Army Service Corps as an officer.
In 1962, after a number of film roles, Moore returned to television after he was picked by ATV boss Lew Grade for the part of Leslie Charteris's hero Simon Templar, The Saint. It was the role he played for seven years and, with it, came fame and worldwide recognition.
The release of Live and Let Die in 1973 marked his first Bond role.
Six more Bond films followed over the ensuing 12 years - The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill.
It was in 1983 that his life changed when filming his sixth film as James Bond in India. Shocked at the poverty in India, he became interested in the Third World humanitarian effort.
His friend Audrey Hepburn had impressed him with her work for Unicef, and consequently he became a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador in 1991.
Despite having made millions through his film and television career, friends stressed he was one of the most modest and charming actors in the business and all that really mattered were his wife and family.
In 1999, Moore was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on June 14, 2003.
The citation on the knighthood was for Moore's charity work, which has dominated his public life for more than a decade.
Moore said that the citation "meant far more to me than if I had got it for acting... I was proud because I received it on behalf of Unicef as a whole and for all it has achieved over the years".
Belfast Telegraph Digital