A lot of his early work in television reminds me of a happy childhood as I watched him in Ivanhoe, singing along to the theme song and enjoying his heroic deeds:
Ivanhoe - oh
Ivanhoe - oh - oh
Side by side
We’re proud to ride
At his call we spring
To help him ride along,
The song we sing
Is free and joyous song.
or words to that effect.
Ivanhoe ran for 39 episodes between 1958 and 1959. It was never as good as The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene, but it had something about it.
Moore enjoyed a decent career in American television with a starring role in The Alaskans (1959 - 1960) and as cousin Beauregard in 16 episodes of Maverick in 1961, filling the gap left by James Garner. He made a few films alongside his television work including Gold of the Seven Saints, a decent western with Clint Walker. Sadly Roger was compelled to attempt a terrible Irish accent that kinda spoiled it all a bit for me.
His biggest break on the small screen was, of course, The Saint (118 episodes from 1962 to 1969), playing the suave, sophisticated Simon Templar, getting into scrapes, catching villains and annoying cops all over the world. It was a huge hit and it was always great fun to see the halo appear above his head at the beginning of the show as someone recognised him as "the famous Simon Templar".
When The Saint ended, he appeared in a weird but watchable film called The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) about a man who encounters a doppelgänger and teeters on the edge of madness as he tries to figure out what is going on.
Then, it was back to TV and The Persuaders co-starring with Tony Curtis. Moore played English aristocrat, playboy and adventurer Lord Brett Sinclair and Curtis was American, fast-talking, rich kid Danny Wilde. It was a hoot and a hit, running for 24 episodes between 1971 and 1972. There was talk that the two stars didn't get on too well together but they both refuted that many years later.
He went on to make seven James Bond films and other movies in-between.
Roger Moore has had many critics over the years. Some say his acting is a bit wooden, one-dimensional, with his greatest skill demonstrated by raising an eyebrow. But that is rather unkind. Yes, he made some clunkers and stayed on for one or two Bonds too many, but he has entertained us pretty well over his long career and should be lauded for some excellent work on screen. As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, encouraged by his friend Audrey Hepburn, he has shown genuine sincerity as a humanitarian. As a raconteur, his head is full of funny anecdotes and his self-deprecating sense of humour continues to delight audiences when he makes public appearances.
But I am reminded especially of his TV work and a time when our family would crowd into the living room to watch stuff together on the one and only television set that we owned (or rented in those early days). Yes, we fought a bit for the best seats, sssshed the chatterboxes and the sweet crunchers. But we were together.
Happy birthday Sir Roger Moore.