Roger Moore, the beloved actor best known for playing James Bond in the ’70s and ’80s, died in Switzerland on Tuesday. He was 89.
The star’s children broke the news in a statement uploaded to Twitter, noting that Moore passed away after a “short but brave battle with cancer.”
“We are all devastated,” Moore’s family tweeted alongside the statement.
“The love with which he was surrounded in his final days was so great it cannot be quantified with words alone,” his three children — Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian — wrote in the statement.
“We know our own love and admiration will be magnified many times over, across the world, by people who knew him for his films, his television shows and his passionate work for UNICEF which he considered to be his greatest achievement.”
A private funeral for the star will be held in Monaco “in accordance with our father’s wishes,” the family added.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, officials with the organization described Moore as one of the world’s “great champions for children.”
“The entire UNICEF family has lost a great friend,” officials said. “In his most famous roles as an actor, Sir Roger was the epitome of cool sophistication; but in his work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, he was a passionate — and highly persuasive — advocate for children. He once said that it was up to all of us to give children a more peaceful future.”
The statement continued: “All of us at UNICEF extend our deepest sympathies to the Moore family, and join his many friends and admirers from around the world in paying tribute to his life and mourning his loss. He will be deeply missed.”
Moore also received a royal tribute at the garden party at Buckingham palace on Tuesday. As the Queen began chatting to guests, the Band of the Coldstream Guards struck up the James Bond theme in apparent tribute to the late actor.
Born on Oct. 14, 1927, to a policeman father and stay-at-home mother in London, Moore joined the Royal Army Service Corps. at age 18 shortly after the end of World War II. Later, he worked as a model and actor until getting his first big break in Ivanhoe, playing the title character in the television adaptation of the romantic novel. Moore wore heavy armor for the part and did his own stunts before transitioning to subsequent stints on The Alaskans and Maverick.
Beginning in 1962, he achieved international success in The Saint as Simon Templar in the Lew Grade adaptation of the novels by Leslie Charteris. The role earned him name recognition in the U.S. and set him up for playing Bond, thanks to the suave and witty nature of the character.
Making his first appearance as James Bond in 1973’s Live and Let Die, the actor finally stepped into 007’s stylish shoes only after it was clear Sean Connery was stepping down as the famous character.
Although he originally had to lose weight for the role and cut his hair, Moore came to embody the suave spy in six subsequent Bond films: 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, 1979’s Moonraker, 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, 1983’s Octopussy and 1985’s A View to a Kill.
Moore holds the record for the longest stint as the MI6 spy, playing the role from 1973 until he stepped down at age 58 in 1985 and was succeeded by Timothy Dalton. He remains the oldest actor to play the iconic character.
The British actor initially stepped away from acting after his Bond stint, eventually appearing in films like 1996’s The Quest and 2002’s The Boat Trip — where his comedic performance was praised. He last appeared in 2011’s A Princess for Christmas as Edward, the Duke of Castlebury.
The beloved actor’s death comes nearly a year after Moore lost his stepdaughter Christina Knudsen to cancer. She was 47.
Moore announced the news on Twitter at the time, writing that the family was “heartbroken” after her death.
“We were all with her, surrounding her with love, at the end,” he wrote.