Sir Roger Moore Has Died, Aged 89

Actor passed away surrounded by his family after battle with cancer

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Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven movies over 12 years, has died after losing a battle with cancer. He was 89 years old.

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Announcing the sad news on Twitter, his family said: "The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified in words alone."

Moore succeeded George Lazenby as the star of the world's most famous film franchise in 1973 when he appeared in Live and Let Die.

A positive reception from fans and critics alike lead to 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).

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Moore's time as 007 - the longest run of any actors to play him to date - is remembered as a lighthearted period in the franchise's history, when Moore's good looks and mischievous manner lent itself more to quips and womanising than being tortured or getting into fistfights - although he did deliver a mean karate chop.

After hanging up his tuxedo in 1985, Moore was followed in the role by Timothy Dalton and the series went in a grittier direction, before Pierce Brosnan made it fun again and, most recently, Daniel Craig restored the grit - thus the circle of Bond continued to turn.

But for the sheer volume of films and iconic scenes alone, Moore could comfortably lay claim to being the most influential and best-loved Bond of them all - in 2004 he topped an Academy Awards 'Best Bond' poll with 62% of the votes, even beating Connery, the original.

Born in Stockwell, London on 14 October 1927, Moore was the son of a housewife and a policeman. Age 18 he was conscripted for national service, shortly after the end of World War II, and rose to the rank of captain commanding a small depot in West Germany.

But his true love was acting - prior to joining the arm, he studied at RADA - and during the 1950s got early work as a knitwear model before getting his first break on a live TV broadcast in Ivanhoe, playing the eponymous 12th century hero.

From that came a series of roles in The Alaskans (1959-60), Maverick (1960-61) and more famously The Saint (1962-1969) and The Persuaders! (1971-71). By the time Bond came knocking Moore was more than used to playing alpha males and action heroes.

Post-Bond Moore continued to work in film, last appearing in comedy-drama A Princess For Christmas, in 2011. He was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a tax exile (something he defended for years) and a vocal supporter of the Conservative Party.

Most of all, for men of a certain age, he will be remembered as a icon of self-assured - but never self-important - masculinity, and as the guy who skied off the edge of a cliff before releasing a Union Jack parachute in arguably the last moment any of us felt truly proud to be British.