Dear Roger Moore,
Like most moviegoers, I first crossed paths with you in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die. I had almost given up on Bond, to be honest. I desperately wanted to say that I was a fan of cinema’s most venerable and storied franchise, but I had made the mistake of starting at the beginning.
“You must see Connery’s Bond,” they said. “He’s indelible in the role.” If by “indelible” they meant a great hulking brute, an ape in a dinner jacket, then I suppose he was indelible. I know there are millions out there who swear by Connery’s Bond, but his particular brand of masculinity had left me cold, and if that was the blueprint for every Bond to come, I doubted that I would ever learn to love the series.
I decided to give you a chance before giving up on the Bond franchise. Your Bond was everything that Connery’s wasn’t: smooth, suave, and just a little silly. You always played the character with a twinkle in your eye; your Bond always knew that he was an indestructible, impeccably tailored Superman shagging his way through an escapist fantasy, and he was just fine with that. I was, too.
What a delight it was, then, to discover that you displayed that same self-deprecating attitude in real life as well. Movie stars who rise to the top of their profession can become enamored with themselves. You never did. When critics and comedians called you wooden or “the eyebrow actor,” you laughed along with everyone else. And now you’re collecting your reward: After your death, their cheap shots have evaporated in favor of glowing tributes and fond remembrances.
Famous actors can also work themselves into a real lather about the gravity of their profession, even though the profession’s ultimate creed is “Take any part, no matter what.” So some pour contempt upon certain moments in their own careers, forswearing their popular successes and yearning for more “meaningful” roles. That never seemed to bother you.
“Bond put my children through college,” you said. “I’m one lucky bastard.” “People often call me ‘Mr. Bond’ when we’re out, and I don’t mind a bit. Why would I?”
These are the words of a man who looked upon his life with a proper sense of perspective. You didn’t worry over what might have been. You took pride and satisfaction in your successes.
I would be remiss if I did not also applaud your work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, work that earned you a knighthood. I’m sure people wondered where you were in the years that followed your retirement as Bond. Well, you could often be found in some of the most impoverished parts of the world, championing the cause of helping children everywhere. You could have spent the rest of your life in a gilded cage, but instead you devoted yourself to doing good in the world. It was a masterful third act of a life well-lived.
Rest in peace.
Thomas Stubbs is a lifelong Knoxvillian, although these days he spends the academic year in Greenville, South Carolina, majoring in History and Communications Studies at Furman University. He’ll be a senior when he returns to Furman in the fall, a fact which mystifies him as much as it does everyone else. He writes a column for Furman’s newspaper, The Paladin, covering theatre and the Greenville arts scene. In his spare time, Thomas may be found singing in any number of choirs or catching up with old friends.
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