John Moore, who plays Santa Claus in famous Coca-Cola Christmas ads, dies aged 86

LONDON - John Moore, best remembered for his role as Santa Claus in Coca-Cola's famous Christmas advertisements, has died of lung cancer at the age of 86.

In the soft drink company's ads in 2006, Moore played the fictional festive character, complete with fluffy white beard, rotund belly, red-and-white outfit and black boots.

He died last month, and his funeral will be held on Nov 1, according to British media reports. His wife died 10 years ago. The couple had no children.

When he was not starring as Santa Claus, Moore, who was from West Sussex in Britain, worked as a taxi driver and barman, reported The Independent.

Coca-Cola has paid tribute to Moore, according to the Daily Mirror.

A spokesman for the company said: "We are saddened to hear of the passing of John and our thoughts are with his family and the community. He really did bring to life the true spirit of the iconic Coca-Cola Santa Claus."

Moore had also appeared as Santa at various venues during Christmas time near his home and for charity.

In an interview with the Financial Times in 2011, Moore shared his tips on playing Santa Claus. He said one of the most important things is "to create a magical link with a child".

"You are here to be mystical and magical. You have to be the embodiment of love and all the best about human nature."

brynasim@sph.com.sg