You met Roger Moore in the 50’s for the first time. Could you let us know exactly when and under which circumstances?
We had a mutual friend who worked as the assistant-head of the Talent Department at MGM. He was a man I knew from my youth, Tom Tannenbaum. He was responsible for getting me the MGM contract. Tom is now deceased, the loss of a good friend to both Roger and me. Tom introduced us. The three of us would make the rounds of some of the nightclubs in Hollywood. It was important to show our British Buddy around!
You played in “The King’s Thief”, “Diane” and “Interrupted Melody” alongside Roger Moore: Could you imagine at that time that Roger Moore would become such a big star in the future?
No one could make that call. Certainly not to the extent Roger is known and loved all over the world. None of us knew much about each other’s background. We were young actors trying to make our mark, gain recognition and respect for our work and advance our careers. As young men, we just liked each other and like friendships everywhere in life away from the movies or stardom, we were and still are friends. I believe true friendship is based on who you are, not what you do to make a living. Roger is a success story on many levels. He is a good man and I am proud to be his friend.
How would you describe Roger Moore’s personality at that time ?
Let me share what I say about myself, “I am the same guy running around in an older body.” I think the same is true of Roger. He was as charming, intelligent and fun-loving then as he is today. The only difference is not many people knew about it. Some of the young ladies in Hollywood did but they never got past Dorothy !
Do you have any special recollections, especially some funny ones, of the times with Roger in Hollywood that you would like to share with us ?
In the movie “Diane”, I played a foot-soldier present during a jousting sequence between Roger and an adversary. Roger had advanced in his horsemanship a little beyond knowing which end of the horse ate! The camera held on Roger and two stunt men all three in full armour before Lana Turner, the Queen (or Princess, whatever she was in the story ). The scene was for Roger to dip his lance to her, she placed a handkerchief (her ‘favour’) on it and it slid into Roger’s grasp. He stuffed it in his sleeve, the three men turned and they were to ride out of the camera’s frame, not far, maybe ten or fifteen feet. Someone forgot to tell Roger’s horse… The horse took off at a full gallop with armoured Roger clinging to the King Arthur-type saddle. After about thirty yards on the20back lot of MGM, there was a huge flat used for background scenery. The horse took a sharp left and Roger went straight. When he hit that flat it sounded like someone had dumped a trash can full of empty beer cans. I ran to Roger’s side and pulled open the face-guard on the armour. “Hey, Roger, are you OK?” He said with his dry sense of humour, “I say, Bob. Do you have a can opener?”
What are, for you, the 3 main qualities of Roger Moore as a person ?
His good heartedness, his sense of humour and the fact he is grateful for what life has given him in the way of opportunities. He has worked hard, won some and lost some of life’s battles along the way, but as I have said in other words, loved by all who know him.
How did you become involved in “Live And Let Die” in the first place ?
I was in the Southern U.S. town of, Slidell, Louisiana, writing an original screenplay about alligators and alligator hunters in the area; an illegal profession. I saw a full page picture of Roger on the front page of the entertainment section of the local New Orleans newspaper. I called his hotel, got Roger on the phone and he invited me to join him for a visit. Playing the part of “Hamilton” in “Live and Let Die” was something that came up while I was visiting with Roger. As I recall, the actor who was to be “Hamilton,” got sick or for some reason could not keep the commitment. Roger asked the director Guy Hamilton, “Why not let Bob do it.” Guy Hamilton agreed I should play “Hamilton.”
Do you think there is a back-story, “Hamilton” and director Guy Hamilton ?
I sure do but when Roger and I email or talk on the phone, I keep forgetting to ask him. [Editors note: We agree with you on the connection, Bob!]
How long did your scenes take to film and where were they filmed? Were there any scenes you did but never made it into the final movie version of the film ?
The sequence of scenes involving my character of “Hamilton” took the better part of a day. There were lots of people on the street and sidewalk in the New Orleans French Quarter for the filming on a bright, sunny day. About the time I was to be killed and scooped up in the passing coffin, it clouded up and started to rain. We had to stop filming and begin again the next day. It gave Roger and me an evening on the town. The second day we completed filming the “Hamilton” sequence. Nothing we did was left out of the movie.
How was the atmosphere on set like, knowing it was Roger Moore’s first outing as James Bond?
Roger won over the city with his kindness and charm in spite of some health problems. People didn’t know that, at times, Roger was in severe pain with a kidney stone. You know Roger; a brave gentlemen. Everybody I spoke with loved Roger as the new James Bond.
Please tell us about your memories of the filmmakers, any funny stories?
I met Guy Hamilton on the set of the film. I never met Cubby Broccoli or Harry Saltzman but I feel I know them from reading Roger’s autobiography “My Word Is My Bond”. Roger and I had a good time together in New Orleans. For a humorous story, visit www.shatterhand007.com and go to the Question Room for an interview I gave at a film festival last year.
In our eyes, Roger Moore is the best Bond ever. If you agree with us, could you let us know why you think so many people consider him the most beloved Bond ?
In one word – class! Roger was a classy James Bond. He was rough and tough, sexy and seductive when he had to be as the character James Bond. He lived the part with a flare and a sense of humour, when needed. It is those ‘shades of life’ he brought to the screen no screenwriter can put in a screenplay. And Roger wore a tuxedo every bit as well as Cary Grant.
According to IMDB you’ve appeared in 34 films and nine appearances in various TV series, is that information correct ?
There were many more TV shows counting guest appearances, co-starring roles and sometimes just one day’s work. (I’ve lost the blue print for some reason).
Of all directors you have worked for, which one/ones do you like best ?
Andy McLaughlin was one of my favourites. I did one movie with him at 20th Century Fox and three episodes of “Gunsmoke”.
Another man from Independent Production movies in Hollywood I worked with was, Kent Osborne. Kent was a very talented and knowledgeable man who came up through the ranks in the movie-making business. He is still a friend today as is Maury Dexter, another unsung director of many feature movies, multiple if not all of “The Little House on the Prairie” series on TV starring Michael Landon, and many other credits. Those three men stand out in my mind.
In what countries have you been working and which film studios to you consider to be a ‘second home’ because of much work based in them ?
I had a wonderful experience doing interior scenes at the Hummingbird Studios in Hong Kong but my favourite studio is still MGM when Roger and I were under contract. It was a city within a city populated by the greatest stars Hollywood ever created. At least I thought so.
Which of your films is your personal favourite ?
I played a lot of different characters in both television and motion pictures. In fact I am referred to as ‘a character actor’ rather than, like Roger and my dad (Richard Dix) ‘a leading man.’ That said, I think my best role was in 20th Century fox’s, “Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come,” a good civil War story with plenty of action and interesting characters directed by, Andrew ‘Andy’ McLaughlin. It starred, Jimmy Rodgers of “Honeycomb” fame, a natural singer/actor and co-starred Andy Devine, Chill Wills, Luana Patten, George Kennedy and me.
I got to play three characters in one; a mountain man from the hills of Tennessee, a Preacher, and an officer in the Union Army. If the movie had a better title, it would have been very successful. It was where Jimmy and I made personal appearances. The title hurt the box office appeal of “Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.”
Which of your films do you think had the biggest impact on your career as an actor ?
There are three. Even though it was a small part, “Hamilton” in “Live and Let Die” is one of the three. To this day at film festivals and from friends and fans around the world, I have more people ask me about that role, and my friendship with Roger.
The science-fiction classic, “Forbidden Planet” is another. At the time I was getting larger and better parts from MGM Studios. My role as “Crewman Gray” was part of that process. Not a leading role but a supporting one.
Samuel Fuller’s “Forty Guns”, a Western starring Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Barry, Barry Sullivan, John Erickson and me, was my break-though role for 20th Century Fox. When that hit the screens of the world, I broke into the ranks of ‘a working actor’. In other words, producers would ask about my availability.
You acted in and were the assistant director on “Cain’s Cutthroats”. Also acted, wrote the screenplay and were the associate producer on “Five Bloody Graves”. What’s the story behind the departure from solely being an actor up until those films ?
I cover a more lengthy explanation of my work in the independent productions of Hollywood in my autobiography – “Out of Hollywood.” I can say I was never content to prepare my part as an actor, do the work and go home. Some if not many are. I was a snoop from day one at MGM. I wanted to know how every department worked, what they did and how they did it. Eventually I started writing screenplays, producing or co-producing movies and learned about distribution and marketing movies and music to the world. To put it mildly, it was an adventure !
Have you ever been in Belgium and/or Sweden ? If yes, please tell us when, where and what you thought of these countries ?
I have not been to Sweden but hope to visit someday. Belgium is a different story… In my book, “Out of Hollywood,” I explain that my school-teacher mom wanted my twin brother, Richard and I, to be exposed to what she called “culture”. Mom, dad, my brother and I, went on a trip to Europe. Our travels took us through Belgium on a train. We stopped for Belgium customs inspection.
Most places we went in the world knew my Dad, Richard Dix, the movie star from Hollywood. All but the customs inspector at that train station in Belgium in 1949. Inadvertently, when dad got his U.S. Passport he had signed it, Richard Dix, although the passport was in his legal name, Ernest Carlton Brimmer. No one had caught the mistake until the guy at the train station in Belgium.
To make matters worse, dad had a make-up case filled with heart medicine; dope! Two guys ushered dad off the train into an interrogation room. My father, like a lot of Americans, think that by raising one’s voice, understanding will come. No way! The Belgium train-man spoke only French and dad only English. My father’s theatrical voice projected a long way! Fortunately, the train-man’s boss arrived, recognized the American movie star and took the cuffs off my father.
Yes, I have been to Belgium…with love !