RIP, Sir Roger Moore

IMG_5153Jamie is friends with Christian Moore, the younger son of James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore. Every time he spoke about meeting them for lunch or dinner I became as jealous as Lucy Ricardo when she learns Ricky is lunching with Richard Widmark at Chasen’s. I had had a crush on him since he played The Saint but it turboed into overdrive when the action-adventure series The Persuaders hit the Saturday night airwaves in 1971. The show starred Sir Roger as Brett Sinclair, an Oxford-educated playboy who destroys a hotel bar on the French Riviera in a brawl with American self-made millionaire Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis). Rather than serve jail time, both agree to use their considerable intellectual and financial resources to assist Judge Fulton in solving crimes or righting wrongs. It was filmed all throughout Europe and the cars, the clothes, the hotels, and the beaches combined to spark my incipient wanderlust. Unfortunately I appeared to be the only person in the US watching the show (as I was eleven years old I probably had few other evening options) and ABC dropped it before its entire series was aired.

Sir Roger went on to play Bond and I went to high school and college and rarely thought about him again outside of a movie theater until the day that I was meeting Jamie at the studio and he told me that Christian was dropping by and, since his dad was visiting from Monaco, there was a good chance he would come along, as well.

I had read Sir Roger’s autobiography, My Word is My Bond, and I knew from it that he considered playing Bond, or anything else, for that matter, less important than his United Nations work, especially ensuring a reliable supply of clean water for every child in the developing world. He wrote at length of purification processes and how cost-effective they were.

When Christian and his father arrived, Jamie introduced me; both were charming but were not overly interested in me. It was obvious that they preferred talking to Jamie about the James Bond stage at Pinewood and prices for stages at Culver. I sat quietly in Jamie’s office and listened to the conversation, trying to remember as much as I could in case I needed it for a story one day.

Finally, they decided to go to The Polo Lounge for lunch. As they rose I didn’t move.

“You coming?” Jamie called over his shoulder as he exited his office door. I knew that was what passed for an invitation from him – he had proposed in much the same fashion – so I grabbed my Birkin and trotted after him.

We took Jamie’s car so he could talk on the phone for the entire drive while Christian ferried Sir Roger in his own car.

“Am I going to get to talk to Roger Moore?” I queried as a valet opened my door when we reached The Beverly Hills Hotel and Jamie disconnected.

“Yeah, sure, just don’t say anything stupid.”

I scowled at him; I had been giving him that same advice for years but he rarely accepted it.

After we were seated in a banquette Sir Roger turned his body to face me, laid his hand over mine, and said kindly, “You have been so quiet. Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself.”

I seized my opportunity. “Actually, Sir Roger, I would like to talk about UNICEF. I used to raise money for it as a child with the Trick or Treat for UNICEF program and I am very interested in the work you do with it, especially the fight for a steady supply of clean water in villages in developing nations.”

It was as though I had changed his batteries and flipped the switch to begin the flow of conversation from Sir Roger’s mouth. He talked through the Arnold Palmers, through the burgers, and through the fresh fruit for dessert. He was still talking as he held my left arm and walked me under the awning to the valet ninety minutes later when I went to get Jamie’s car. (He was returning to the studio with the Moores and I had a nail appointment.)

Sir Roger kissed me lightly on both cheeks as he held my hand. “This has been a lovely afternoon,” he said just before I drove away.

Two hours later I received a text from Jamie. “Roger Moore said to give his love to my charming wife. He found it so refreshing that you didn’t ask about James Bond but only wanted to know about third world water purification programs. You are such a suck up.”

I snickered as my fingers tapped on the keyboard “I don’t read books for nothing, you know.”

Good night, Sir Roger. Rest in Peace. The children of the developing world aren’t the only ones who will miss you.

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