The international headlines announcing the death at age 89 of the iconic James Bond movie star, Roger Moore, has a Falls Church connection, as it turns out. Moore’s stepson, long-time Falls Church resident and arts activist Shaun van Steyn was the son of Moore’s first wife, the late Doorn Van Steyn, when she married Moore in 1946, a marriage that lasted seven years.
That made Moore the first “dad” for Shaun, and he has vivid memories, mostly of domestic clashes between Moore and his mom in their Streatham London home that ultimately led to Moore’s infidelity, according to Shaun, and their divorce in 1953.
News of Moore’s death Tuesday began bringing the media to Shaun’s doorstep in Falls Church right away. A reporter from CBS brought a film crew and was treated to a bumpy romp around Van Steyn’s two-acre home on Lincoln Avenue in Shaun’s juiced up and trimmed down Mini, the same wheels he crowds friends onto to ride in the annual Memorial Day Parade in Falls Church (expect him to be in the parade again this year on Monday).
Van Steyn’s friendly, outgoing demeanor masked his sorrow, he said. In the CBS interview, he said when he heard about the bombing in Manchester, England, “It was a dagger in my heart, and this morning when I heard about Roger Moore passing, it was two daggers in my heart. So even though I may be smiling, I’m not. I’m feeling pretty awful.”
But that’s not stopping Van Steyn from handling a growing list of requests for interviews in the wake of Moore’s death, including the National Inquirer and the BBC, much less the News-Press. With the help of a publicist, he’s also preparing his own video to tell his story.
Van Steyn has become an endearing high-profile figure in little Falls Church in the last 15 years since accepting a position on the board of the new Falls Church Arts. He’s specialized in promoting the non-profit effort, and most recently he spearheaded the drive that led to 600 people attending the grand opening of the Falls Church Arts’ new digs on W. Broad Street earlier this spring.
His own artistic talent has also risen in this context. His fine art photography has taken off since he walked the sidelines of football games at Falls Church’s George Mason High School to photograph the team, but especially his son, Simon van Steyn, who graduated from that school in 1998 and subsequently from George Mason University, worked at the News-Press for a stint (specializing in creative captions for the Critter Corner column) and is now a video producer for the U.S. State Department.
Van Steyn, whose birth father was a Dutch bomber pilot, came to Falls Church with his wife at the time, Joan, in 1975 and Simon was born in 1978. In 1984, Van Steyn started up and ran the Arlington Motor Car Service, a repair shop in Arlington that moved to Tysons Corner seven years ago and is now also the East Coast distributor for the Australian motor outfitting company, ARB.
Van Steyn’s mom, former wife of Roger Moore, lived to the west of here in Blumont, Virginia, until her death in 2010.
Following her passing, Van Steyn discovered a trove of memorabilia, including letters, dating back to when his mother and Moore were married. “My mum divorced him for adultery with Dorothy Squires,” Van Steyn said. “It was witnessed by herself and a witness by climbing up a ladder and peeking through the bedroom window.”
He’s continued to have a relationship with Moore, periodically exchanging greeting cards and letters until Moore contracted cancer in Switzerland and died after a short illness.
“We lost a saint,” Van Steyn said of Moore, known for his humanitarian work over the course of an eight-decade acting career that included seven films in which he starred as James Bond, more than any other actor who’s played the part.
Of Moore’s frequent fights with his first wife, Van Steyn’s mom, according to Van Steyn, some were epic. “Some were downright scratchy,” Van Steyn said. “Teapot flying overhead, dishes thrown, clothes thrown into the bathtub and telling him to leave naked.” She even told him he’d never make it as an actor.
But as Adam Bernstein wrote in a Washington Post obituary of Moore, he “became an international star in playboy-adventurer roles, first on the hit 1960s TV series, ‘The Saint,’ and later for his tongue-in-cheek film portrayal of the dashing spy, James Bond” based on the Ian Fleming novels.
Van Steyn said he’s been invited to Moore’s funeral in Monte Carlo.