Actor Sean Connery dead at 90

Actor Sean Connery dead at 90

Actor Sean Connery, the big screen’s first, wittiest and most revered James Bond, has died, his family said Saturday. He was 90 years old.

Connery died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas, having been “unwell for some time,” his son told the BBC.

“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,” said Jason Connery.

Best known for his seven turns as Bond, beginning with 1962’s “Dr. No,” the Scottish-born Connery, who became Sir Sean in 2000, freed himself from the debonair typecasting to play myriad other roles ­besides agent 007.

His decades-long career was filled with accolades, including an Oscar, two BAFTAs and being crowned People magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Century” in 1999.

Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were “devastated” by his passing, saying Connery’s “gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent” was largely responsible for the success of the spy-movie series.

“He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond whose indelible entrance into cinema history began when he announced those unforgettable words, ‘The name’s Bond . . . James Bond,’ ” they said in a statement Saturday.
Daniel Craig, the current Bond, said Connery “defined an era and a style” and that the “wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in megawatts.”

Thomas Sean Connery was born of Irish ancestry in the slums of Edinburgh, Scotland, on Aug. 25, 1930. The son of a cleaning woman and a factory worker, he left school in his early teens to earn a pound a week delivering milk.

“We were very poor,” he once said. “But I never knew how poor because that’s how everyone was there.”

He was drafted into the Royal Navy at age 17, but was discharged three years later due to a serious case of ulcers. He returned to Edinburgh and worked odd jobs, including as a milkman, lifeguard, and — while broke and homeless at age 21 — as a polisher at a coffin factory.

“I know he spent a few nights sleeping in a coffin just after he started,” co-worker Tommy Wark told The Scotsman in 2005.

Connery also took up bodybuilding and placed third in the 1951 Mr. Universe competition in London. It was during that competition that a fellow bodybuilder suggested he audition for a bit role in a London production of “South Pacific.”

Despite his utter lack of experience and his thick Scottish brogue, he got a part in the chorus, and his career had begun.

In 1956, he was cast as a battered prizefighter in the BBC TV production of “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” earning positive reviews and the attention of the wider industry. His first film role came that same year, in the B-movie crime yarn “No Road Back.” He went on to star opposite Lana Turner in “Another Time, Another Place” (1958) and landed several roles that leaned on his looks, such as “Tarzan’s Great Adventure” in 1959.

His turn as Count Vronsky to Claire Bloom’s Anna Karenina on the BBC helped raise him to the top of a newspaper poll asking readers to suggest the ideal James Bond, the superspy in a popular series of novels by Ian Fleming.

Connery landed the 1962 film role without a screen test, after an interview with producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, according to Variety. It was a controversial choice at the time, as Connery was an unknown outside Britain.
Connery’s effortless delivery of the character’s signature line: “Bond, James Bond,” propelled him to international stardom.

His stature grew alongside the extraordinary popularity of the series as he reprised the role in “From Russia With Love,” “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” over the next four years. He also donned the tuxedo for “You Only Live Twice” in 1967, and “Diamonds are Forever” in 1971, and returned to the role a final time in “Never Say Never Again,” in 1983.

Although he was paid only $30,000 for “Dr. No,” by 1964 he received $400,000 for his role as a wealthy widower in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie,” and was soon earning $750,000 a film. By the 1980s, his price tag was regularly more than $5 million.

But when he decided to end his career, he had no trouble walking away from still more millions. Connery was 74 when he turned down $17.5 million to play a lead role as an aging thief in a Brett Ratner project in 2004, the director told

As he turned 80, Connery told the UK Daily Record in 2010 that “From Russia With Love” was his favorite Bond movie. “The story was intriguing, and the locations were intriguing,” he said. “It was an international movie in every sense of the word.”

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, 1989, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everet

16Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” in 1989.

Paramount/Everett Collection

He broke away from Bond for many other roles, from a soldier-turned-adventurer in John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975) to a defecting Russian submarine captain in the 1990 Tom Clancy thriller, “The Hunt for Red October.” Other hits included “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “Highlander” (1986) and as Harrison Ford’s on-screen father in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989).

In one of his greatest late-career roles, Connery won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for portraying a tough Irish cop in Prohibition-era Chicago in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables.”

Though he groused that he was “fed up” with James Bond — once even stating “I’d like to kill him” — by the time he clinched his Oscar he was at peace with the role that made him rich and famous.

“The name’s Connery,” he said as he received the award. “Sean Connery.”

His last screen appearance was in 2003’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”

Connery was devoted to his native Scotland and sported a tattoo from his Navy years that said “Scotland Forever.

“Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted Saturday. “Sean was a lifelong advocate of an independent Scotland nd those of us who share that belief owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

He called being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II “one of the proudest days of my life,” and asked that the investiture be performed at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.

Other awards over his career included Kennedy Center Honors in 1999 and the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award in 2006, where he announced his retirement.

After retiring to Nassau in the Bahamas, he spent much of his time golfing.

Craig, whose latest Bond film, “No Time To Die,” has been delayed to next year because of the pandemic, said Connery will continue to influence actors and filmmakers for years to come.

Family members of Roger Moore, who died in 2017 and played Bond in seven films, wrote on Twitter they were “infinitely sad” to hear the news of Connery’s passing.

Connery was married to actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973. The couple divorced in 1973 and Cilento died in 2011.

Connery is survived by his second wife, painter Micheline Roquebrune, whom he married in 1975; his son by Cilento, actor Jason Connery; his brother, Neil, and a grandson.