Actor Sir Roger Moore dies of cancer aged 89

Updated: 

For Your Eyes Only

Former James Bond star Sir Roger Moore has died in Switzerland at the age of 89 after a short battle with cancer, his family has announced.

A message shared on the actor's official Twitter account read: "With the heaviest of hearts, we must share the awful news that our father, Sir Roger Moore, passed away today. We are all devastated."

The statement continued: "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."

UK - 'Roger Moore' Book Signing in London

They continued: "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.

"The affection our father felt whenever he walked on to a stage or in front of a 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."

The statement was signed by Sir Roger's children, Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian.

Sir Roger was the longest-serving actor to play the womanising MI6 agent, having portrayed 007 in seven films.

Last year during a question-and-answer session at London's Southbank Centre, he admitted that, despite winning the coveted role of the martini-swirling spy, one part he wished he had landed was Lawrence of Arabia.

He said: "I remember Bob Baker and I going to see Lawrence of Arabia and coming out both being very depressed and saying 'We might as well give up the business', because they had made the best movie that had ever been made."

The debonair star, who added a distinct light-hearted touch to the 007 role, also admitted that, while he thought Sir Sean Connery had been the greatest Bond, fans were "lucky" to have the current star of the franchise, Daniel Craig.

He said: "I think that Sean was obviously the great Bond.

"He was obviously the right person, he brought the right personality to the performance, otherwise Bond would not have gone on past the first six that he did. He was a tremendous Bond.

"Today, I think we're very lucky to have Daniel Craig because he is quite extraordinary. I always say that Sean looked like a killer - but Daniel Craig would finish it off.

"When I saw Casino Royale, I thought that Daniel Craig did more action in the first seven minutes than I did in seven movies."

While arguably best known for his role as 007, Sir Roger will also be remembered for his work in TV's The Saint in the 1960s.

He once joked of his role as Simon Templar in the spy thriller series, which he also produced: "When I was doing The Saint on television I had two expressions; as Bond I've managed to work up to four."

Despite having been criticised somewhat throughout his decades-long career for having a lack of depth, Sir Roger remained self-deprecating.

He once said he could not act "in the Olivier sense", although he described himself as a good technician.

Along with Bond films including Moonraker, A View To A Kill and The Man With The Golden Gun, Sir Roger appeared in movies such as The Cannonball Run, Spice World, The Boat That Rocked and The Man Who Wouldn't Die.

Off screen, he was respected for his charity work, and in 1999 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 2003.

His knighthood was given for his humanitarian work, his main focus for many of his final years.

At the time, he said 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".

Tributes to Sir Roger have been led by The James Bond International Fan Club, which has said "nobody did Bond better".

A statement from the club read: "Sir Roger will always be remembered as the most enduring actor to play 007 and as a great ambassador for the franchise.

For Your Eyes Only

"From his announcement as Sean Connery's replacement in August 1972 to his retirement in December 1985, he thrilled and charmed a whole new generation of Bond fans and redefined the series."

They said that in his seven films, "he made James Bond his own".

"Arguably the greatest purveyor of Cool Britannia before the term had been invented, he kept the British end up as his reign as 007 saw Bond through the 1977 Silver Jubilee and national resurgence in the 1980s.

"He was the Bond not only of his generation but the Daniel Craig generation by keeping Ian Fleming's gentleman spy alive when people thought his best days were over.

"We are all sad at the passing of a great British icon. Nobody did Bond better."

Australian actor Russell Crowe tweeted: "Roger Moore, loved him."

The British Film Institute wrote on Twitter: "We're sad to hear of the loss of one of the giants of British film and TV, Sir Roger Moore."

The official Bafta Twitter account wrote that it was "saddened to learn" of Moore's death.

Pinewood Studios described Moore as a "force of nature", adding that "his humour and spirit will be missed by all of us".

Unicef paid tribute to Sir Roger, a long-term supporter and goodwill ambassador for the charity, in which they said the "world has lost one of its great champions for children".

A statement from Unicef's executive director Anthony Lake said: "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 (his wife) 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."

Mr Lake added that "the entire Unicef family has lost a great friend" in Moore.

Fellow Unicef ambassador actor Ewan McGregor added: "Thank you, Roger for having championed so tirelessly the rights of all children for the last 26 years.

"You introduced me to Unicef over a decade ago and have been an inspiration to all of us.

"I hope that together we'll continue advocating for the plight of children everywhere, whose most basic rights are still being denied.

"You've shown that we all have the power to make a change to the lives of the most vulnerable children."