Sean Connery, the first actor to portray James Bond on the screen, along with numerous other memorable roles in films that spanned nearly sixty years, has passed away.
Thomas Sean Connery, better known as Sean Connery, died at the age of 90 in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas. Reports from the BBC say that he had not been well for some time but did not go into detail on the condition.
Connery’s film career started in 1954 in the film “Let’s Make Up” but appeared on television shows on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (once appearing as a porter on The Jack Benny Program). A young Connery would first come to American audiences not through James Bond, but through a Disney film called “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” in the role of Michael McBride.
His career shot to super stardom with the release of “Dr. No” in 1962.
While James Bond’s author, Ian Fleming, initially did not want Connery as his famous secret agent (at the time, Fleming quipped, “I want Commander Bond, not an overgrown stuntman!”), he relented after seeing how talented Connery was on screen.
He even expanded Bond’s backstory to make him part Scottish. This was even reflected in the film “Skyfall”, which was filmed partly in the Scottish Highlands.
Connery would play Bond in six films in the official United Artists/EON productions, taking on the role in the first five films and announcing his retirement from the role before the start of filming for “You Only Live Twice” in 1967, saying he wanted to expand his acting opportunities and did not want to be typecast.
He would return after George Lazenby stepped down after “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” to play the role once more in “Diamonds Are Forever” in 1971, and used some of the salary to set up the Scottish International Education Trust to support up-and-coming Scottish artists.
He would step into the role of Bond once more in the famously unofficial Bond film “Never Say Never Again”, a modernized take of the film “Thunderball”.
He would win the BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscar) for William von Baskerville in “The Name of The Rose”, before taking on the role of Ramirez in the cult fantasy classic “Highlander”. Connery’s career as an elder-statesman actor would skyrocket with his being cast as veteran cop and mentor Jim Mallone in Brian de Palma’s “The Untouchables”. The role garnered Connery an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1987.
Connery would continue to see success in films like “The Hunt for Red October”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, and “The Rock”, while other films like “The Avengers”, “First Knight” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” tanked. It was after “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” that Connery would announce his formal retirement from acting, which was confirmed when he was given AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award in June of 2006. Connery would turn down roles in the “Lord of the Rings” film and a chance to repeat as Henry Jones, Sr. in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, but returned to one more role: the voice of Sir Billi in the 2012 computer animated film “Sir Billi”.
Connery was married twice. His first marriage to Australian Actress Diane Cilento ended in 1975 after allegations that he was violent towards her. They had one son, Jason, and after Jason’s marriage to Mia Sara brought Dashiell Connery to the world in 1997. His second wife was Micheline Roqubrune, a Moroccan artist, and he became a stepfather to three children. Connery would be knighted by the Queen in 2000 and celebrated his 90th birthday in August.
Outside of acting, Connery was a keen fan of football (soccer) and was offered a 25-pound a week contract to play for Manchester United in the 1950’s.
But Connery will be known forever as one of the best in showbiz. Whether playing 007, Henry Jones, Sr., Captain Marko Ramius or even Draco the Dragon in “Dragonheart”, he will be remembered as a tough-as-nails leading man with the ability to adapt and disappear into any role he played.
Sir Sean, mar sin leat. (Scottish Gaelic for “Goodbye”)
Josh Widdowson is an infrequent guest columnist for The Inscriber. His loves include movies, sports, trivia and his girlfriend, but not necessarily in that order.