The only child of a London policeman, Roger Moore started out working as a film extra to support his first love, painting, but soon found he preferred acting, and so enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He began his film, radio and stage career just after World War II (his early credits are often confused with American actor Roger Moore, a minor Columbia contractee of the 1940s), and also performed with a military entertainment unit.
Though in childhood Moore had been mercilessly teased by friends and family alike for being fat, by the time he was ready to start his career, he had become an exceptionally handsome man with a toned, well-muscled body. Signed on the basis of his good looks to an MGM contract in 1954, Moore began making appearances in American films, none of which amounted to much dramatically; his biggest success of the 1950s was as star of the British-filmed TV series Ivanhoe. Signed by Warner Bros. Television for the 1959 adventure weekly The Alaskans, Moore became the latest of a long line of James Garner surrogates on Maverick, appearing during the 1960-1961 season as cousin Beau. After a few years making European films, Moore was chosen to play Simon Templar in the TV-series version of Leslie Charteris' The Saint (an earlier attempt at a Saint series with David Niven had fallen through). Moore remained with the series from 1963-1967, occasionally directing a few episodes (he was never completely comfortable as simply an actor, forever claiming that he was merely getting by on his face and physique). After another British TV series, 1971's The Persuaders, Moore was selected to replace Sean Connery in the James Bond films. His initial Bond effort was 1973's Live and Let Die, but the consensus (in which the actor heartily concurred) was that Moore didn't truly "grow" into the character until 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me.