Obituary: Luisa Mattioli, Italian actress who was the wife of Roger Moore during his James Bond years
Luisa Mattioli, who died aged 85, starred in films in her native Italy in the 1950s and 1960s before becoming the third wife of Roger Moore, the on-screen personification of James Bond in the 1970s and 1980.
After 30 years together, he abruptly left the marriage and joined a family friend, prompting his furious wife to change the title of his putative memoir from Living with a saint To Nothing lasts eternally.
The two met in Rome in 1961. Moore, then 34 and the couple’s oldest by a decade, had started to make a name for himself on television as Ivanhoe. But eager for work, he had accepted the lead role in an Italian-made sword and sandal film, Romulus and the Sabine Women, actually being shot in Yugoslavia.
Luisa Mattioli, who had a small role as Silvia, interviewed Moore for television before production began. Neither spoke the other’s language, but according to Moore’s autobiography, My word is my pledge (2008), this did not hinder the procedures, nor their rapid appreciation of each other.
Moore was so enamored that he agreed to stay in Rome and star in a partisan drama, A Branco de Vigliacchi (1962), in which Luisa Mattioli was chosen. Shadows, however, quickly took hold on their gnocchi.
Moore, who was first married to ice skater Doorn Van Steyn, was at the time the eight-year-old husband of popular Welsh singer Dorothy Squires. The Shirley Bassey of her time, she and Moore, her junior by a dozen years, had a tumultuous relationship.
Although due to her pious Catholic upbringing, Luisa Mattioli initially agonized over living with groom Moore, she patiently endured the tribulations that followed.
The last of his dozen screen appearances has arrived Pericolosi bikini (“Dangerous Bikinis”) in 1963, the year she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Deborah. She would become an actress herself.
Their first son, Geoffrey, later an actor and restaurateur, was born in 1966, and the family settled in Denham, in the south-east of England. Cilla Black lived next door and John Mills was also a neighbor. Moore rose to fame on the small screen as professional smoothie The Saint, and after eight years, Squires agreed to a divorce.
With Kenneth More as a witness, Moore and Luisa Mattioli then married in April 1969 at Caxton Hall, Westminster; a predominantly female crowd of 600 spectators wished the couple good luck.
Video of the day
Luisa Mattioli was born on March 23, 1936 in San Stino di Livenza, near Venice. His childhood is dominated by the war years. After completing her studies, she studied at Rome’s film school, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, making her screen debut at age 20 in Naples sole mio!. She also worked as a television host.
In 1973, the year of the birth of their second son, Christian, producer, Moore made his debut as James Bond in Live and Let Die. World fame brought new problems – she once said that she made sure to have the aisle seat on flights “so that Roger was always protected”.
In 1978, mainly for tax reasons, the family moved to Gstaad, Switzerland. They traveled frequently, however, and Luisa Mattioli has become a familiar face after appearances at movie premieres and the like.
Moore’s last eyebrow trick as Bond came in 1985, when he was nearing sixty. Eight years later, a battle with prostate cancer that he described as “emasculating” prompted him to take stock of his life. He left Mattioli.
His real anger, however, was reserved for Kristina “Kiki” Tholstrup, with whom Moore moved to Monaco. A Danish socialite of Swedish origin,she had known Moore and his wife for many years.
They married nine years later after Moore and Mattioli divorced.
He would have reestablished friendly relations with Mattioli before his death in 2017. Their children survive him.