Sean Connery, who rose to superstardom after playing James Bond in the 1960s and early 1970s, has died at the age of 90, his family told the BBC.
Scottish film legend Sean Connery, who shot to international star as the suave, sexy and sophisticated British agent James Bond and continued to dominate the silver screen for four decades, has died at the age of 90, the BBC and Sky News reported on Saturday.
Connery grew up in near-poverty in the slums of Edinburgh and worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his bodybuilding hobby helped start an acting career that made him one of the world’s biggest stars.
He will first be remembered as the British agent 007, the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and immortalized by Connery in films that started with “” Dr. No. 1962.
As Bond mishandled his debonair manner and crooked humor by folding flamboyant villains and magic bands with beautiful women a darker, violent edge, he created a depth of character that set the standard for those who followed him in the role.
He wanted to introduce himself in the movies with the signature line “Bond – James Bond”. But Connery was unhappy to be defined by the role and once said he “hated the damn James Bond”.
Tall and handsome with a throaty voice that matches a sometimes crusty personality, Connery played a number of notable roles in addition to Bond, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop in “” The Untouchables “(1987).
He was 59 when People magazine declared him the “sexiest man alive” in 1989.
Connery was an ardent supporter of Scottish independence and had the words “Scotland Forever” tattooed on his arm while serving in the Royal Navy. When he was ridden at the age of 69 by British Queen Elizabeth in 2000 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, he wore a full Scottish dress including the green-and-black plaid kilt from his mother’s MacLeod clan.
1 / I was saddened to hear this morning of Sir Sean Connery’s passing. Our nation today mourns over one of her most beloved sons. Https://t.co/76UGDptARp
– Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 31, 2020
Tired of ‘idiots’
Some notable non-Bond films included director Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964), “The Wind and the Lion” (1975) with Candice Bergen, director John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975) with Michael Caine, director Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and the tale “The Hunt for Red October” (1990) from the Cold War.
Fans of alternative cinema will always remember him starring as “Brutal Exterminator” Zed in John Boorman’s mind-bending fantasy epic “Zardoz” (1974), in which a strong mustachioed Connery spent much of the film running around in a skimpy red loincloth , thigh-high leather boots and a ponytail.
Connery retired from film after quarrels with the director of his last outing, the forgettable “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” in 2003.
“I’m tired of dealing with idiots,” he said.
The Bond franchise was still going strong more than five decades after Connery started it. The lavishly produced films, filled with high-tech equipment and spectacular effects, broke box office records and earned hundreds of millions of dollars.
After the resounding success of “Dr. No”, several Bond films followed Connery in quick succession: “From Russia with Love” (1963), “” Goldfinger “(1964),” “Thunderball” (1965) and “” You Only Live Twice “(1967).
Connery then became concerned about becoming typecast and decided to break away. Australian actor George Lazenby succeeded him as Bond in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” in 1969.
But without Connery, it lacked what the public wanted, and he was lured back in 1971 for “” Diamonds Are Forever “with temptations that included a piece of profit that he said would go to a Scottish educational trust. He insisted that it would be his last time as Bond.
Twelve years later, at the age of 53, Connery was back as 007 in “Never Say Never Again” (1983), an independent production that infuriated his old mentor, producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli.
Preferred beer over martinis
In a 1983 interview, Connery summed up the ideal Bond film as “wonderful locations, interesting atmosphere, great stories, interesting characters – like a detective story with espionage and exotic surroundings and nice birds.”
Connery was a very different type than Fleming’s Bond character with his impeccable social background, preferring beer over Bond’s vodka martini cocktails that were “” shaken not stirred “.
But Connery’s influence helped shape the character in the books as well as the movies. He never tried to hide his Scottish accent, prompting Fleming to give Bond Scottish legacy in the books released after Connery’s debut.
He was born Thomas Connery on August 25, 1930, and was the eldest of two sons to a long-distance car driver and a mother who worked as a cleaning assistant. He dropped out of school at the age of 13 and worked in a variety of jobs. At 4 p.m., two years after World War II ended, Connery was drafted into the Royal Navy and served for three years.
“I grew up with no idea of a career, much less acting,” he once said. “I certainly never planned it. It was really random.”
Connery played small parts with theater repertoire companies before graduating for film and television.
It was his role in a 1959 Disney gnome movie, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” that helped get the role of Bond. Broccoli, a producer of the Bond films, asked his wife to see Connery in the Disney movie while looking for the real lead actor.
Dana Broccoli said her husband told her he was not sure Connery had sex appeal.
“I saw the face and how he moved and spoke, and I said, ‘Cubby, he’s fabulous! “, She said. “He was just perfect, he had star material right there.”
Connery married actress Diane Cilento in 1962. Before they divorced 11 years later, they had a son, Jason, who became an actor. He married the French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he met in golf, in 1975.