Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Late Roger Moore: Saintly Bonding With Singapore

Image: Singapore Press Holdings: National Archives of Singapore (28/05/1969)

The James Bond Story with the late Roger Moore as an example:

Roger Moore is gone. He died on May 23 this year (2017).

He was a superstar. He was handsome, suave, sexy, an Englishman and a ladies man. He died at 89 years. And very popular in Singapore when he acted as a secret agent in The Saint and James Bond movies series.

On the popularity poll, Roger Moore had won the hearts of many of his fans on our little island. I only learnt about him in the early 60's when The Saint hit our Singapore black and white TV screen. Oh, and he was my late mom's favourite screen star. 

She used to exclaim that he was, "So handsome. Better than Clark Gable..."

But the series appeared much later than when it first started in 1962. There were 118 episodes altogether up to 1969.  We never had television until 1963. In fact, I remember The Man from UNCLE better than The Saint. 

So like Bonanza and *Have Gun Will Travel where living room audiences learnt about cowboys from the gun-toting West, they absorbed secret agent culture with the likes of Simon Templar and Mr Napoleon Solo.

Leslie Charteris, born in Singapore, creator of The Saint. With Roger Moore.

The match-stick man logo of The Saint could be found scrawled on some Singapore walls, on sheets of paper and classroom desks. (Drawing graffiti is strict here, even today, so woe-betide.)

There was a big hoo-ha when Roger Moore came to Singapore in 1969.  He came with his Italian wife Luisa.  He was quite a buzz and was interviewed by the media. 
In fact, any pop star who came to Singapore became an attraction. Especially Roger Moore with his blue eyes. Some Singapore girls adore Caucasian men with blue eyes and worship them like gods.

His James Bond persona was in my mind more than his role as Simon Templar. According to the statistics, he acted in seven James Bond (007) movies. These films, with the group or singers names below, were:
A Singapore 1968 recording. Lisa Pattis. From Steven Farram's research. 

Live And Let Die - 1973 - Wings
The Man With The Golden Gun - 1974 - Lulu
The Spy Who Loved Me - 1977 - Carly Simon
Moonraker - 1979 -Shirley Bassey
For Your Eyes Only - 1981 - Sheena Easton
Octopussy (All Time High) - 1983 - Rita Coolidge
A View To A Kill - 1985 - Duran Duran

Most of the James Bond movies were shown at Shaw Brothers' theatres like the Lido Cinema at Orchard Road or at the Capitol during earlier times. In later months they films were distributed to smaller suburban cinemas like the Roxy in Tanjong Katong (East Coast).

Going off track a little, Bond movies were so popular that Chinese, Malay and Indian pop singers and bands recorded many James Bond themes or related songs. Spin-offs made profits too those years.

Then there were spoofs, like Mat Sentul's Malay version above and a popular funny man who called himself Hamid Bond. He made waves in Singapore with his comedic capers.
            Connie Chan Po Chu Hong Kong James Bond Pathe Vinyl Cover

The vinyl covers featured guns, sexy ladies with machine guns and super cars. This commercialised secret agent went wild from the 60's onwards and the Singapore fans loved it. Cinemas were full when Bond movies were screened.

Roger Moore's seven Bond movies had earned for the producers more than a billion dollars. Hope Mr Moore got more for his share too.

One of his movies, *For Your Eyes Only, was promoted by a prominent eye-wear company, in Singapore and Sheena Easton sang at the National Theatre that year in 1981. She was a hit and so was the movie. 

                    The Stylers - Themes from James Bond. Video by Abdul Trelles

Strange, but I can remember the theme tunes of most of the Bond films, including these ones that Roger Moore starred in. James Bond title songs have always been hits. 

In fact, in the 60's, Singapore guitar group, The Trailers recorded two of them, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. Sales were good for the two vinyl.

Once asked if he did his own stunts, he replied with the usual Englishman quip, "Of course I do my own stunts. And I also do my own lying."

You're the spy we all love. Rest In Peace Roger Moore. 


*No 'saintly bonding'. Just a play on words with 'Saint' and 'Bond'. 😊

*Have Gun Will Travel Connection:

*Sheena Easton: For Your Eyes Only in Singapore Concert:

Roger Moore signing autographs at Television Singapura on 28 May 1969.

Images: Google and National Archives of Singapore.


Latest News

5 August 2017.

"Espionage is a reality of life," explains MP Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs in Singapore. 

He was commenting on the NUS suspension of an academic who, "had worked with intelligence organisations and agents from a foreign country to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion."

Extract from The Straits Times Press, Singapore. Page: A8 Top of the News.


henri gann said...

An interesting writeup on Roger Moore, one of my favorite 007. And, I like what you wrote about the "Singapore girls adore men with blue eyes and worship them like gods." Is that why
Peggy Tann, Singapore's legendary jazz pianist, had included 2 Bond tunes ( You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale ) in her Lps. Whatever the reason, it was definitely a sign of the time and she was surely greeted with applause from her ladies fan when she played the Bond movie themes at the tea dances.


Hi Andy,
A bit more info on your late Mr Roger Moore's article; before Simon Templar and James Bond, he and Robert Colbert played cousins Beau and his brother Brent Maverick to brothers Bret (James Garner) and Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly).

The TV series Maverick that aired here in B&W in the 60's only featured the episodes on brothers Bret and Bart. The ones that had cousins Bau and Brent were never shown here. Don't know why!

PS: Would have been nice to watch.


The piece covered everything really. Except I'll add my sidebar that the author of The Saint, Leslie Charteris is from Singapore and if I'm correct the saint drove a Volvo Sports Coupe those times.

ROSE KHOO said...

Roger Moore my fav. I love his Saint series also.


So nice to see these flashbacks. Thanks, Andy.


How can ST comment on the Saint when he is also The Saint (ST) Song Teck. Hehe...

chakap chakap said...

Leslie Charteris (12 May 1907 – 15 April 1993), born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin, was a British-Chinese author of adventure fiction, as well as a screenwriter. He was best known for his many books chronicling the adventures of the charming anti-hero Simon Templar, alias "The Saint."

Charteris was born in Singapore to a Chinese father, Dr S. C. Yin (Yin Suat Chwan, 1877–1958), and his wife Lydia Florence Bowyer, who was English. His father was a physician, who claimed to be able to trace his lineage back to the emperors of the Shang Dynasty.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Nice write-up about Roger Moore. After The Saint he was also in a show with Tony Curtis for a few years in the early 70s called The Persuaders. Did you get that one in Singapore?

You Only Live Twice was cut as an instrumental by The Trailers, but they also backed singer Lara doing the vocals in Chinese (Mandarin, I think).


And ex-pat Lisa Pattis also recorded it in Singapore.




ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the immediate comments for this posting. Not too many people are keen with this Saint and Singapore connection but I'm grateful to you all for more connections.

I have inserted the LESLIE CHARTERIS, Singapore connection = Thanks to Horace Wee.

I could not get the PEGGY TANN recording but = Thanks to Henri Gann.

I was given the LISA PATTIS connection and have just put it up. =Thanks to Dr Steve Farram.

The Lara recording is posted elsewhere a few years ago. I shall connect it to this posting too.

Looks like Roger Moore and especially James Bond will live forever.

Research helps and it all came from my good friends. I've met all three personally, STEVEN, HORACE and HENRI, in that order.

Thanks again.


Come catch the trailers on Sept 10th at sota. With the pests and the straydogs

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes, Jimmy. A little somethin' from the Trailers. Victor Woo's on WhatsApp with me. When we do stuff we gotta DO IT RIGHT. :-)