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.
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:
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.
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:
Images: Google and National Archives of Singapore.
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.