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Was Roger Moore the best Bond ever? Well...

May 24, 2017 GMT

Was Roger Moore, who died Tuesday at the age of 89, the best James Bond ever?

Probably not, but he sure was fun to watch.

Moore, who appeared in such Bond classics as “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Live and Let Die” and “The Man With the Golden Gun,” wasn’t the gritty, working-class Bond envisioned by author Ian Fleming and captured onscreen by Bond #1, Sean Connery (for the record: the best Bond).

But that was OK. He was his own Bond.

A very handsome man who never seemed to be aware of how good-looking he was (or was at least unwilling to be defined by his looks), Moore had a twinkle in his eye -- a “wink wink” vibe -- even when he was karate chopping bad guys, playing the suave, tough, lady-killer or engaging in daredevil stunts.

Even in his TV shows like “The Saint” or big budget action films like “The Wild Geese,” audiences knew he was just having fun -- not condescending, just enjoying himself.

And maybe this was because, with a sense of humor that defined his numerous public appearances, Moore was actually aware of his limitations as an actor. He once said he “only had three expressions as Bond: right eyebrow raised, left eyebrow raised and eyebrows raised when grabbed by Jaws,” (the villain in the films “Moonraker” and “The Spy Who Loved Me”).

Not that this mattered in the least. Some people just leap off the screen, their charisma and style so evident it’s impossible to imagine them being anything other than a movie star. Moore was one of those golden humans, whose personality and savoir faire were impossible to resist.

He made seven films as Bond, and inhabited the role for 12 years, making Moore the longest running Bond ever. Although his later career was never as glittery, Moore had no regrets about being forever recognized as 007. “Being eternally known as Bond has no downside,” he once said. “People call me ‘Mr. Bond’ when we’re out, and I don’t mind a bit. Why would I?”

Besides, after his Bond years, Moore indulged his serious side. He became known for his charity work, particularly acting as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, in recognition of which he received a knighthood in 2003.

So here’s how we should remember Roger Moore. Dressed impeccably, a slight smile on his face, a gun in his hand, a beautiful woman by his side, and a clever bon mot reflecting his sybaritic lifestyle on his lips. Like this bauble from “The Spy Who Loved Me,” referring to the film’s main villain: “Hmm, maybe I misjudged Stromberg. Any man who drinks Dom Perignon ’52 can’t be all bad.”