By Roger Moore
Michael O’Mara Books, $11.33, 160 pages
Although I much prefer Sean Connery’s dark and dangerous portrayal of Ian Fleming’s iconic character James Bond to Sir Roger Moore’s light and comedic approach, I was a huge fan of Mr. Moore’s portrayal of Leslie Charteris’ Simon Templar in the 1960s TV series “The Saint.”
By all accounts, the late Mr. Moore was an intelligent and amiable man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This comes across clearly in his books, such as “My Word is My Bond” and “Last Man Standing,” as well as his latest book, “A Bientot.”
The book was delivered to his publisher only days before he died on May 23 at the age of 89.
“A Bientot” (French for goodbye or see you later) offers Mr. Moore’s take on growing old and a look back at what he has called an extraordinarily lucky and charmed life.
“The poet Dante believed old age starts at forty-five. The United Nations suggests it begins at sixty. Meanwhile, in 2016, the Daily Express newspaper reported that Britons do not see themselves as elderly until they are nudging eighty-five,” Mr. Moore writes at the start of his last book. “Well, as I write, I’m in my ninetieth year. Ninety! Where did those years go? But what is old age? Does it define us? Does it inhibit us? You can’t escape it, you can’t avoid it — well, you can, but the alternative isn’t to be recommended — so you just have to embrace it.”
Mr. Moore’s charmed life began in London on Oct. 14, 1927. The son of a policeman, Mr. Moore trained as an actor, served in the British army, and came to fame on British TV as “Ivanhoe” in the 1950s. He replaced James Garner in 1960 on “Maverick” and first appeared as “The Saint” in 1962. “The Saint” ran until 1969. In 1971 he starred in “The Persuaders” with Tony Curtis and in 1973 he starred in his first Bond film, “Live and Let Die.” He would go on to portray James Bond in six more films, finally giving up the role after 1985’s “A View to a Kill.”
But it was his more than 25 years as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador advocating children’s causes that he was most proud of. He was knighted by the British queen for his UNICEF work in 2003.
He was also a lifelong supporter of the British Conservative Party.
“A Bientot” offers Mr. Moore’s musings, along with anecdotes, sketches, photos, complaints about growing old, and abundant humor.
Mr. Moore notes in the book that he has lived through many landmark events, such as World War II, the birth of television, the first man on the moon and the birth of the Internet. Then realizing that he was really that old, he offered up some of the absurdities advancing age brings with it, such as “when you look at a bathtub and wonder, if you get in it, will you ever get out,” and “when you feel twenty-one inside but wonder who the old fart in the bathroom mirror staring back at you is.”
Later in the book Mr. Moore laments that the English language has become informal and lazy, but wanting to blend in, he offers his own old folks’ text shorthand:
“ATD — At the doctors. BTW — Bring the wheelchair. BYOT — Bring your own teeth. FWIW — Forgot where I was. IMHO — Is my hearing aid on? GGPBL — Gotta go, pacemaker battery low. ROFLACGU — Rolling on floor laughing and can’t get up. TTYL — Talk to you louder.”
Reflecting on his early days as a handsome leading man, Mr. Moore writes “Playing secret heroes, action-adventure characters and suave crime stoppers was all in a day’s work for me as a young, agile actor. Yes, back then I could leap out of cars, run up stairs without taking a breath and happily throw myself around sets for fight-sequences, often without putting a hair on my well-lacquered head out of place.”
Well, that’s all stopped, he informs the reader.
“I now glare at stairs with contempt and huge suspicion. Instead of leaping out, I have to prise myself carefully from cars while desperately trying not to accidentally break wind in the driver’s face.”
Despite his complaints about growing old, Mr. Moore aged gracefully and acknowledged that he has had an interesting and fun-filled life with a loving family and many friends. Survived by his wife Kristina and three children, he continues to entertain millions through his films, TV programs and books.
Mr. Moore’s many fans will enjoy “A Bientot,” as will those looking for a bit of humor and nostalgia.
• Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism.