Friday, May 26, 2017

Gentleman's 007: Roger Moore's passing brings memories of 7-7-77, London and QE2's Silver Jubilee

Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Cubby 
Broccoli and Princess Anne at the
premiere of "The Spy Who Loved Me."
STORY and PHOTOS By CHRISTENE MEYERS
and courtesy United Artists


THE INVITATION came by certified mail -- delivered to the newsroom where I worked many years in Billings, Montana.
I was invited to see the Queen -- not a drag show diva from a Vegas show. The real deal. Queen Elizabeth II. A five-day party, whose zenith would occur on 7-7-77, in celebration of the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the debut of the latest 007 movie, "The Spy Who Loved Me." (The Queen's a fan of Bond. James Bond.) That Bond film starred Roger Moore, who passed away this week at age 89.  He and his leading lady, Barbara Bach, would take part in the revels.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip greet crowds  
of well wishers at Buckingham Palace during
festivities celebrating her 1977 Silver Jubilee.
The royal family would attend a black tie opening of the film at Odeon Cinemas in Leicester Square. Three dozen U.S. film reviewers and travel- arts writers were guests of United Artists, invited through famed James Bond film producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, who hand-picked the journalists.
Cookie attended one of London's famous street parties,
July of 1977, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 25th year.
WE WOULD spend five hectic days and "black tie" nights in London, based at the plush
InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair.  We'd attend the world premiere of the film, have lunch in Kew Gardens, afternoon tea at the elegant Dorchester Hotel, a morning at the British Museum and afternoon at Tate Gallery, meet members of the royal family at a reception and join revelers at two of London's famous street fairs.  Five of us would interview Moore.
A quick run across the Piccadilly, just the right place to
catch the Queen's Guard passing by Hotel InterContinental.
Broccoli, a jovial, smart film scholar, whose hobby was cooking, liked my interview style and film critiques.  He knew I was a musician and would appreciate the film's theme song -- "Nobody Does It Better," famously sung for the picture by Carly Simon. Broccoli was instrumental in choosing the theme song and at a later United Artists film junket, he asked me to play it on the piano.
INVITATION IN HAND, I approached my editor, Doc Bowler, a shrewd veteran newsman who knew a potential story when he saw it. I traded a few days off for a series of stories.  I bought my black-tie dress at Hart-Albin, during a quick lunch break (I still have it, a tasteful floor-length swishy gown with just the right amount of decolletage.) In New York, our chartered plane to London was late. I played the piano --show tunes, Cole Porter and Gershwin -- for two hours. This gave me cache for the interview, I'm certain.
The always spirited "Queen Mum"
was a highlight of the 1977 press trip.
Cookie did not meet Prince Charles, 
but did meet her favorite royal.
Sir Roger Moore loved London, but preferred Switzerland.
Roger Moore as 007.
 


Among other highlights of the visit -- one of 20-plus trips I've made to London -- was watching the
The Queen's Life Guard, prance down Piccadilly from a penthouse suite at the InterContinental. We reporters grabbed our cameras, crossed the street and photographed them passing our hotel.
WE MET both Princess Anne and the Queen Mum (the Queen Mum by far my favorite, for her wit and warmth -- the Scottish influence, no doubt.) The parties were great fun -- thousands of merry Englishmen toasting the queen on streets, lawns and in pubs.
But the highlight of the five days was being chosen to interview Roger Moore, who was well into his seven-Bond run between 1973 and 1985. I'd watched him as a kid, playing a favorite TV show of my dad's, "The Saint," in which he portrayed that appealing worldly adventurer, Simon Templar. We loved how he navigated the globe in a spiffy white Volvo in a hit series between 1962 and 1969.
Roger Moore as TV's The Saint.
Bond.  James Bond. Moore was an elegant 007.





WHAT I REMEMBER most about the interview was Moore's elegance -- he put the five of us at ease immediately in his penthouse suite, offering shrimp and tea sandwiches and a full bar, where he recommended white wine -- he didn't drink martinis --   shaken or stirred.
 One of the memorable quotes from the interview: "I believe in love, generosity, good manners. Those should be taught in school."
He talked about his thrill at being picked by Broccoli in 1972 to play Bond. "I was ecstatic. I had never been a cinema star, although I had TV success.  I found out from Cubby that I had been short-listed to play Bond a decade earlier for "Dr. No."  The part went to some Scottish guy named Sean."
The evolution of "Nobody Does It Better"
to be the movie's theme song is classic
Hollywood, show biz story stuff.
He talked about the lushness of the film's theme song, written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager.  He thought it interesting that the only mention of the movie comes in the first verse: "Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me is keepin' all my secrets safe tonight."
Roger Moore in his last years. The
dapper and erudite 007 endures.
A FAN OF trivia, he also told us that Hamlisch and Bayer Sager didn't write the song for the movie; producer Richard Perry convinced them to submit it for the film, and Broccoli loved it. Cubby asked the two to rework the song to make the lyric work for the 007 picture.
The rest is history.  Except, perhaps for "Goldfinger," Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" is one of the most enduring, 007 theme songs.
Roger Moore endures as my favorite Bond -- and that of many other 007 fans. Dapper, elegant, suave on screen -- and off camera, a gentleman.


Less than two weeks after surgery performed by Dr. Jonathan Fisher, left,
Bruce Keller's recovery is breaking records (knock wood). More next week.
NEXT UP: Bruce Keller's successful liver transplant at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., has attracted international attention on our blog with thousands of hits and comments from Peru to Portugal, Italy to Ireland, Singapore to San Francisco.  At the Patient Patient's suggestion, we bumped our follow-up to the next posting. The always trending Mr. Keller deemed that Cookie's interview with Sir Roger Moore should go this week, current with Moore's recent passing. Next, we'll talk about the challenges of the transplant, as Keller breaks endurance records at Scripps. We'll describe fundamental changes in our lives, wrought by the transplant, and our schedule for getting back on track with theater, writing, his design and contracting work and our international travel. With an eye on the road ahead, remember to laugh, learn and live, and catch us weekends.

6 comments:

  1. Lively weaving of memory, present reality and love of the arts..... loved Sir Roger. Love this column...

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  2. Red Lodge ReaderMay 27, 2017 at 7:06 AM

    We miss Christene's wonderful travel pieces. I remember her "London journal" and so many other reports from afar. No one has her style and sense of fun! Come back, Cookie. We need you.

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  3. Rhode Island RoadiesMay 27, 2017 at 7:14 AM

    Wow! Has Cookie considered writing a book on her extraordinary life, loves, travels, travails and interviews? Would love to see it all in one giant, engaging book!

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  4. Cleveland GlobetrottersMay 27, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    We too were in London that same memorable week. And in the throngs to greet the Queen and Prince. QE2 has weathered many storms -- not unlike Cookie. Lovely piece of writing.

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  5. Carolina AnglophileMay 28, 2017 at 8:31 AM

    Fine reporting, nice weaving of stories. What a fertile mind this writer has.

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  6. Ex-pats At LargeMay 29, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    We have many times enjoyed the Queen's Guard procession past our favorite hotel, The Athenaeum. Often lunch at the InterContinental. Can't beat the location. Fun to revisit our favorite UK city through this writer's sharp eye.

    ReplyDelete