Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90, his family has said.

The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of James Bond, being the first to bring the role to the big screen and appearing in seven of the spy thrillers.

Sir Sean died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas, having been “unwell for some time”, his son said.

His acting career spanned five decades and he won an Oscar in 1988 for his role in The Untouchables.

Sir Sean’s other films included The Hunt for Red October, Highlander, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

ason Connery said his father “had many of his family, who could be in the Bahamas, around him” when he died overnight in Nassau. Much of the Bond film Thunderball had been filmed there.

He said: “We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.

“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”

His publicist Nancy Seltzer said: “There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended.”

He leaves his wife Micheline and sons Jason and Stephane.

Sir Sean Connery
image captionDaniel Craig said Sir Sean defined an era

Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, said Sir Sean was “one of the true greats of cinema”.

“Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more,” he said.

“He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts; he helped create the modern blockbuster.

“He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

In reference to Sir Sean’s love of golf, he added: “Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course.”

Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang the themes to three Bond films including Goldfinger, paid tribute saying: “I’m incredibly saddened to hear of Sean’s passing.

“My thoughts are with his family. He was a wonderful person, a true gentleman and we will be forever connected by Bond.”

Sir Sean Connery with his Oscar
image captionHis Oscar win came in 1988

Sir Sean, from Fountainbridge in Edinburgh, had his first major film appearance in 1957 British gangster film No Road Back.

He first played James Bond in Dr No in 1962 and went on to appear in five other official films – and the unofficial Never Say Never Again in 1983.

He was largely regarded as being the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise, often being named as such in polls.

For many, Sean Connery was the definitive James Bond. Suave and cold-hearted, his 007 was every inch the Cold War dinosaur of the books.

He strode across screen, licensed to kill. He moved like a panther, hungry and in search of prey. There was no contest. His great rival, Roger Moore, by contrast, simply cocked an eyebrow, smiled and did a quip.

But whereas Ian Fleming’s hero went to Eton, Connery’s own background was noticeably short of fast cars, beautiful women and vodka Martinis – either shaken or stirred.

Humble origins

Thomas Sean Connery was born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh on 25 August 1930, the son of a Catholic factory worker and a Protestant domestic cleaner.

His father’s family had emigrated from Ireland in the 19th Century; his mother traced her line back to Gaelic speakers from the Isle of Skye.

The area had been in decline for years. Young Tommy Connery was brought up in one room of a tenement with a shared toilet and no hot water.

He left school at 13 with no qualifications and delivered milk, polished coffins and laid bricks, before joining the Royal Navy. Three years later, he was invalided out of the service with stomach ulcers. His arms by now had tattoos which proclaimed his passions: “Scotland forever” and “Mum & Dad”.

In Edinburgh, he gained a reputation as “hard man” when six gang members tried to steal from his coat. When he stopped them, he was followed. Connery launched a one-man assault which the future Bond won hands down.

He scraped a living any way he could. He drove trucks, worked as a lifeguard and posed as a model at the Edinburgh College of Art. He spent his spare time bodybuilding.

Too beautiful for words

Sean Connery as a young man
image captionSean Connery left school without qualifications and worked as a milkman, brick layer and coffin polisher

The artist Richard Demarco, who as a student often painted Connery, described him as “too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis”.

A keen footballer, Connery was good enough to attract the attention of Matt Busby, who offered him a £25-a-week contract at Manchester United.

But, bitten by the acting bug when odd-jobbing at a local theatre, he decided a footballer’s career was potentially too short and opted to pursue his luck on the stage. It was, he later said, “one of my more intelligent moves”.

In 1953, he was in London competing in the Mr Universe competition. He heard that there were parts going in the chorus of a production of the musical South Pacific. By the following year, he was playing the role of Lieutenant Buzz Adams, made famous on Broadway by Larry Hagman.

American actor Robert Henderson encouraged Connery to educate himself. Henderson lent him works by Ibsen, Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw, and persuaded Connery to take elocution lessons.

Connery made the first of many appearances as a film extra in the 1954 movie Lilacs in the Spring. There were minor roles on television too, including a gangster in an episode of the BBC police drama Dixon of Dock Green.

Just the seven as 007 – Connery’s Bond movies

  1. Dr No (1962)
  2. From Russia with Love (1963)
  3. Goldfinger (1964)
  4. Thunderball (1965)
  5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
  6. Diamonds are Forever (1971)
  7. Never Say Never Again (1983)

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