This is 1996 file photo of veteran British actor Roger Moore, poses for a portrait, in the Studio City section of Los Angeles. File picture: Chris Pizzello/AP

London - British actor Roger Moore, who won international fame playing fictional secret agent James Bond, died of cancer on Tuesday aged 89, his family said.

Here are five facts you may not know about him:

* Moore, the son of a policeman, started out with ambitions to be an artist but after losing his job as a cartoon animator he switched to acting following an invite from a film director friend.

* Moore served in the British army during World War Two before moving to the United States for a period in the 1950s to kickstart his acting career.

* Moore enjoyed his break-out role in action-crime television series "The Saint" in 1953, before taking over the role of Bond, the hedonistic spy, from Sean Connery in the 1973 film "Live and Let Die"'.

* Moore starred in seven Bond films in total over a 12-year period, including "The Spy Who Loved Me", "For Your Eyes Only", "Octopussy" and "A View to a Kill".

* The international smash hit film franchise, which saw Moore go to exotic locations to fight crime, womanise and drink martinis helped him win a number of awards and recognition, including a Golden Globe in 1980. He was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth in 2003.