Veteran British actor Sir Roger Moore, best known for playing charismatic MI6 spy James Bond, has died aged 89. Known for his mellifluous voice, charismatic charm and arched eyebrow, he played the iconic character seven times, starting with Live And Let Die (1973).
Sir Roger's family confirmed the news on Twitter, saying he had died after "a short but brave battle with cancer".
The statement, from his children, read: "Thank you Pops for being you, and being so very special to so many people."
"With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated."
Born in London in 1927, Moore started his career in the 1950s as a knitwear model, before moving into acting with a series of small film roles. His initial breakthrough, though, came on the small screen in shows like Ivanhoe, Maverick, and The Alaskans. Moore became a household name with The Saint from 1962 to 1969, in which he played the suave, sophisticated, sharply dressed hero Simon Templar. Many of the Saint's characteristics, the easygoing manner, mocking eyebrow and ability to successfully charm every passing female, would later be incorporated into his role as James Bond.
In fact, Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli had approached Moore twice to take the part, but his television commitments had got in the way. When Sean Connery officially retired from the role after Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the coast was clear and Moore accepted the role.
Moore played 007 seven times: Live And Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View To A Kill (1985). Throughout his tenure, he established a playful and debonair take on the character, injecting a sense of fun into Ian Fleming's creation.
Following his retirement from the role, he took a short break from acting, taking on smaller bit parts. His later years were largely devoted to charity and humanitarian efforts. In a statement, his family said he considered his work with UNICEF to be "his greatest achievement".
On his approach to his most famous role, he once said "I'm have a good time doing this, and I hope you're having a good time watching me have a good time."
Russell Crowe (The Nice Guys) led the tributes to the actor on Twitter, writing simply: "Roger Moore, loved him."
Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) said: "I am truly sad and think I will be in tears if I talk about him.
"Roger was the perfect gentlemen, adored by all his friends."
Singer Michael Ball said: "My dearest uncle Roger has passed on. What a sad, sad day this is.
"Loved the bones of him. Generous, funny, beautiful and kind."
Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby) wrote: "Few are as kind & giving as was Roger Moore. Loving thoughts with his family & friends."
Despite his many achievements, Moore never managed to shrug off the mantle of 007.
"Of course I do not regret the Bond days," he once remarked. "I regret that sadly heroes in general are depicted with guns in their hands, and to tell the truth I have always hated guns and what they represent."
Our thoughts are with his friends and family.