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Our story of the month: Winter 2008

Why did "saint" Roger Moore break so many hearts? Part 2

© The Daily Mail - Michael Thornton, 12th October 2007

At the end of the party at Bexley in 1952, Moore, in Dorothy Squires' own account, "put the light out, leaving only the glow of the fire to light the room. He sat down on the floor beside me, leaned over and kissed me.

"He gathered me in his arms and carried me upstairs. We made love.

"Sex hadn't bothered me since I had left Billy Reid, and I certainly didn't want to get involved with another married man, even one who had been apart from his wife for seven months."

But in no time at all, Moore had moved into Squires's Bexley mansion. Doorn Van Steyn, returning from yet another ice-skating tour, had to learn this from others.

She divorced Moore in March 1953 and later had to sue him for nonpayment of alimony.

Her account of their marriage - The Saint That Ain't - remains unpublished.

Billy Reid, heartbroken that Squires now intended to marry another man, wrote two further hits for her in a gesture of farewell: I'm Walking Behind You (on your wedding day) and I Still Believe (we were meant for each other).

When Squires went to New York to promote the first of these, Moore went with her, and they were married in Jersey City "before a drunken Justice of the Peace", according to Moore, on July 6, 1953.

With Squires's support and influence as a star behind him, Moore's career began to flourish.

In 1954, he won a contract with MGM, making his American screen debut with Elizabeth Taylor in The Last Time I Saw Paris.

The Moores moved to Hollywood, the most age-conscious place in the world, where the yawning gulf in years between the rapidly ageing Squires and her baby-faced husband was a subject of constant comment.

"Don't forget to invite Roger Moore and his mother," was one of the crueller film colony jokes.

Rows between the couple were frequent and often public, and in 1959, the first serious rift appeared in the marriage when Moore became infatuated with Dorothy Provine, his blonde co-star in the television series, The Alaskans.

When Moore began calling for "Dorothy" in his sleep, Squires knew that it wasn't her. Moore only ever called her Dot.

In 1961, they moved back to Britain where Squires had kept her Bexley mansion, and she returned to the charts with her own composition, Say It With Flowers, but discovered that during her long absence, her position as the Welsh belter of ballads had been usurped by a Cardiff girl 22 years her junior, Shirley Bassey.

Moore flew to Rome to film a lowbudget French-Italian film, The Rape Of The Sabine Women.

Playing a supporting role was a dark and beautiful 28-year-old Italian actress, Luisa Mattioli, who was 18 years Squires's junior.


Squires, who was already 38 when Moore married her, had suffered a series of miscarriages and was never able to carry a pregnancy beyond three months.

Moore was later to say that had he and Squires had children, he might have made a different decision over their marriage.

As it was, it was left to the Moores' Bexley GP, Dr Plunkett, to break the news to Dorothy that there was another woman and that her marriage was over. Moore had confided in him but did not dare tell Dorothy.

This was further confirmed when Squires intercepted some letters addressed to Roger from Italy.

They were from Luisa. Squires had them translated from Italian by the doorman of a Mayfair nightclub.

One allegedly described Luisa's wish to lick Moore all over.

She added: "You say Dorothy does not believe in our love. Show her this letter."

Squires's later comment on this was: "What kind of a cow was that?"

Squires, in a move that appalled even her closest friends, sued Moore for restitution of conjugal rights.

Moore, predictably, ignored the judge's order to return to her. The announcement that he was to play the Saint further inflamed Squires.

It seemed to her that a halo was being conferred upon him for deserting his wife.

Squires was to refuse Moore a divorce for seven years, during which time two of his children by Luisa were born out of wedlock.

When Moore at last married Luisa on April 11, 1969, Squires was back in the headlines on a drink-driving charge.

A year later, in an act of personal and professional defiance, she spent £5,000 to hire the London Palladium for a comeback concert, and sold out the theatre in a matter of hours.

In 1977, there was further bitterness between Moore - now the screen's James Bond - and his second wife when Squires proposed to include in her autobiography not only Moore's intimate love letters to her, but also the letters to him from Luisa, which Squires had illegally intercepted.

There was also a graphic account of Moore performing oral sex on Squires under the bedclothes.

Horrified, Moore and Luisa both won injunctions and the book was never published. Squires sued them both for loss of earnings but lost the case.

At one point, she stormed into the offices of Moore's solicitors, Harbottle and Lewis, and hurled objects at cowering members of the staff.

Her obsession with litigation was to ruin her utterly. She lost 30 of the 33 law cases she launched. She was made bankrupt in 1986.

A year later, she was declared a vexatious litigant and barred from launching further legal actions, and in 1988, she was evicted by bailiffs from her 17-room Thamesside-mansion at Bray, and her possessions were sold at public auction.

For the last ten years of her life, Squires was an obsessive, paranoid recluse, homeless, often penniless, and living on the charity of friends.

Ironically, her successor, Luisa, also became increasingly dominant and fiery in her relations with Moore, and the rows between them were numerous.

When, in 1994, following treatment for suspected prostate cancer, Moore left Luisa for a friend of hers, the Swedish socialite, Christina "Kiki" Tholstrup, Luisa reacted much as Dorothy had before her.

"He dead to me," she said of Moore. "He seriously mad. Now he is nobody. He does not exist. He has killed everything. Unfortunately."

And for Kiki, she had the darkest allegations, implying that she had plotted to steal Roger away from his family, and might even have resorted to witchcraft in order to do it.

As Luisa disappeared from his life, Moore made his first telephone call to Squires in two decades.

Speaking of Kiki, she asked him: "Have you found the right one at last Roger? Is this the one for you?" Moore replied: "This is the one."

Squires wished him happiness and they spoke at length of the many years they had spent together.

"We had a ball, didn't we?" she said. "That we did," replied Roger. I

n March 1996, when Squires underwent surgery for bladder cancer at the BUPA Hospital in Cardiff, Moore picked up the £6,000 bill.

When, in April 1998, Squires lay dying from cancer in hospital at the age of 83, Moore told her niece, Emily: "Take hold of her hand, give it a little squeeze, and tell her Rog is thinking of her."

At her funeral, a bouquet of purple tulips, lilies of the valley and orange flowers arrived with a card with the words: "I've said it with flowers. Roger."

Time brings a mysterious evanescence even to the greatest of fame.

Despite his knighthood and his admirable work as a UNICEF ambassador, Moore's career on the big screen, 22 years after his last appearance as Bond, has fallen into oblivion.

His close friend, Sir Michael Caine, discussing Roger in a recent television interview, observed: "Now he can't get a job."

Yet ironically, the reputation of Dorothy Squires, which lay in ruins during the last disastrous decade of her turbulent life, is undergoing a revival.

Next April, two plaques are to be unveiled in her native Wales to commemorate the tenth anniversary of her death.

And EMI has just released a 49-song double-CD of her major hits, spanning the years from 1938 to 1973.

The passion and power of her delivery confirms that she is, without doubt, one of the great popular singers of the 20th century.

Perhaps the last words on this extraordinary love-hate saga ought to be those of two Welsh Squires fans who placed a moving In Memoriam notice in The Stage newspaper.

"There are no more shows or curtain calls," they wrote. "We thank God for your voice and songs that still echo through the valleys we love."

 

Read our previous stories of the month

August - September - October - November - December 2003

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December 2004

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - Sept/october - November - December 2005

January - February - March - April - May - June - July/August - September - October - November - December 2006

January - February - March - April - May/July - Summer - October - November - December 2007

 
 
 

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