Roger Moore visits Copenhagen: Eyewitness accounts from Magasin du Nord (1972)

Even before Roger Moore made his debut as James Bond 007 in "Live and Let Die" (EON 1973), he enjoyed a strong fan following in Denmark due to the popularity of the TV series "The Persuaders" (Danish title: "De uheldige helte" = The Unlucky Heroes, 1971-72) in which he played the dandyish lord Brett Sinclair opposite Tony Curtis as brash American Danny Wilde.

Nevertheless the publicity department at the renowned department store Magasin du Nord at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen were taken aback by the response when they invited the citizens of the Danish capital to meet the British television star on Friday May 5, 1972.

Roger Moore in Magasin du Nord May 5, 1972

Roger Moore was visiting Copenhagen as a board member of the luxury goods firm Fabergé to promote their latest fragrance. Unfortunately, the arrangers at Magasin du Nord had grossly underestimated the public's interest in seeing the actor in the flesh. Several thousand children and adults flocked to the second floor of the department store hoping to catch a glimpse of the star, and the pressure of the crowds caused the situation to escalate into sheer chaos.

"People went berserk. They smashed our mirrors, and we had to call for ambulances."
– An employee of Magasin du Nord recalls Roger Moore's visit to the department store

One of many children who did not get the chance to greet Roger Moore was the eight-year-old Bent Nielsen. In 2006 he recalled on his blog that infamous day in May 1972 when his mother took him to see Moore at the store:

"When we arrived at Magasin we were directed to the second floor where we found a place in front of two large white doors behind the few other attendees who had already appeared. After a while more and more people showed up and eventually people started pushing from below as we got closer to the time where we would come in and meet Roger Moore. The queue grew, and the Magasin employees tried to form a chain by holding hands but people still continued to push and crowd, after which my mother put me up on the counter next to a cash register until the counter started to tilt back and forth when people just kept on crowding. My mother then lifted me back down and we had to push our way out through the crowd as things were now out of control, and we just got out of there as fast as possible.
On our way out of Magasin we heard over the speaker system that they expected to have the queue in order by the time Roger Moore appeared. We didn't believe them. Outside we happened to meet a lady who told us that she had seen Roger Moore walking down a side street near the store, even though her daughter was still standing in line to get in to see him. Despondently we decided to go home, not knowing if anyone in the store would get the chance to greet him".

Roger Moore at Magasin du Nord May 5, 1972

Sussi Bech, who later became a major Danish comic book artist, was also present on May 5, 1972. Her recollection:

"As a twelve-year-old, I showed up with my two-year-older sister. We must have arrived a little later [than Bent] because we didn't experience a queue but just a sea of ​​people. Being young and naïve we just tripped forward as the crowd allowed, and thus we must have been part of those who unsuspectingly pushed. That's the scary thing about crowds, that those at the back have no idea what kind of chaos they create up front. We only realized too late what we were getting ourselves into. We were standing so close that we could barely lift an arm. My sister's fancy suede bag got tangled up in the crowd, and the handle snapped. In front of me a young boy was screaming and screaming. He was red-hot and only as tall as my waist. I tried to lift him up but it was completely impossible as we were all straitjacketed.

This went on endlessly with the crowd shouting and screaming. My sister and I were pushed right up to the front where some frantic store employees who clearly had no control over the situation were standing. At long last they formed a human chain, letting people out the back door in small groups. It was a miracle that no-one was trampled to death. Some time later (an hour perhaps?) we returned to the floor that had now been cleared. My sister recovered her handle-less bag ... and at that very moment, Roger Moore stepped out and waved and said 'Hello' to the few people who happened to be nearby. But he had become rather uninteresting after all that. I was much happier to see the little boy running off with his mother, all sweaty and with his hair all messed up".

Roger Moore's calamitous visit received three pages of coverage in Magasin du Nord's staff magazine Bikuben. The uncredited report, reproduced below, was probably written by the magazine's then editor, Tove Selbach Poulsen.

The pages from Bikuben as well as the press photos are reproduced here with the kind permisison of Magasin du Nord Museum. Thanks to Bent Nielsen, Sussi Bech, and Britta Smits.

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