Sean Connery, the beloved Scottish actor who was seen as a sex symbol well into his 70s and endeared himself to global audiences as the first actor to portray British super-spy James Bond in cinema, has died at the age of 90, it was announced Saturday morning.
Connery is survived by his wife Micheline Roquebrune and his sons, Jason and Stephane. According to Jason, he died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas after having been “unwell for some time.”
Connery, whose career spanned five decades, will be remembered for his epic roles including the starring role in 007 films Goldfinger, From Russsia With Love, and Diamonds Are Forever, as well as his outstanding supporting roles in The Highlander, The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rock and other classics.
Sir Thomas Sean Connery was born August 25, 1930, in Edinburgh, Scotland to truck driver Joseph and cleaner Effie. His early jobs included being a milkman, a coffin polisher, and a nude model for artists before finding his career on the stages of London and later in feature films.
The celebrated actor’s awards and plaudits are almost too numerous to list here, and are as wide-ranging as his own background.
Connery won his first and only Oscar for his memorable role in 1988’s The Untouchables, where he portrayed the tough-as-nails Chicago cop Jimmy Malone. The belated recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences elicited a humorous and punchy acceptance speech from the actor, who was already seen as a venerable elder thespian.
“Patience truly is a virtue,” Connery joked.
“In winning this award, it creates a certain dilemma because I had decided that if I had the good fortune to win, that I would give it to my wife, who deserves it. But, this evening, I discovered backstage that they’re worth $15,000 — now I am not so sure,” he added. “Micheline, I am only kidding. It’s yours.”
Connery also received the Kennedy Center Honor, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He was also hailed as “The Greatest Living Scot” by Scottish newspaper The Sunday Herald, while People Magazine not only named him the “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1989 but “Sexiest Man of the Century” a decade later.
At the height of his fame, Connery is said to have despised the attention he received for portraying the world’s most recognizable secret agent, which began in 1962.
He twice quit the role of James Bond, once while making You Only Live Twice in 1967 and again after starring in Never Say Never Again in 1983.
However, he is still widely seen as synonymous with the iconic role.
“Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more,” said Daniel Craig, the current actor portraying 007, who added that Connery was “one of the true greats of cinema.”
“He defined an era and a style. The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; he helped create the modern blockbuster,” Craig added. “He will continue to influence actors and film-makers alike for years to come. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
The actor lived out his last days in a very low-profile fashion, spending his time in a gated community in New Providence in the Bahamas, where much of the Bond film Thunderball had been filmed. He spent his years there free of the annoyances that accompanied dealing with those he derided as “idiots” in the movie industry. He spent his time preoccupied by a truly Scottish passion: golf.
In a statement to the BBC, Connery’s son said that his father had enjoyed visits from much of his family in the Bahamas prior to his death.
“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,” Jason Connery said. “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.”
According to his publicist, Nancy Seltzer, his family will hold a private ceremony that will be followed by a memorial due to be held once the ongoing pandemic has ended.
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