LEGENDARY Scottish film actor Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90.
The James Bond actor’s family revealed that he had been ‘ill for some time’ before he died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas surrounded by loved ones.
His son Jason paid tribute to his film star dad as he told the BBC his death was a ‘sad loss for a people around the world.’
“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,” shared Jason.
Sir Sean enjoyed a long and distinguished career but is best known for being the original James Bond, and to many fans the best ever.
He brought Ian Fleming’s secret agent to the big screen in 1962’s Dr No and went on to star in seven hit films in total.
Raised in near poverty, a young Connery worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his love of body building helped launch a career in acting.
After Bond propelled him to international stardom, Sir Sean enjoyed more than 40 years in the industry during which time he won an Oscar, two Baftas and three Golden Globes.
The proud Scotsman was also knighted in 2000 for his services to film drama, which he accepted wearing full highland dress.
Following the tragic announcement today, tributes have poured in for the much-loved star from devastated fans as well as politicians and fellow actors.
Current James Bond Daniel Craig shared his condolences to Sir Sean’s grieving family as he called the late star ‘one of cinema’s true greats.’
“Sir Sean Connery will be remembered as Bond and so much more. He defined an era and a style,” said Craig.
“The wit and charm he portrayed on screen could be measured in mega watts; 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. Wherever he is, I hope there is a golf course,” joked the Skyfall star.
The family of Sir Roger Moore, who died in 2017 aged 89, said: “How infinitely sad to hear the news Sir Sean Connery has passed away. He and Roger were friends for many decades and Roger always maintained Sean was the best ever James Bond.”
The Official James Bond Twitter account shared a heartfelt statement from producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli who said they were ‘devastated’ by the news.
They praised Connery for revolutionising the world with his ‘gritty and witty’ portrayal of the secret service agent, acknowledging the franchise may never have taken off if it wasn’t for his star quality.
Wilson and Brocolli shared: “We are devastated by the news of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. 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” — he revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent. He is undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon also paid her respects on social media, telling her followers that ‘Scotland was in mourning’.
“I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons.
“Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent & sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors.”
Fellow Scotsman Robert Carlyle tweeted: “RIP Sir Sean Connery.. a trailblazer, a true legend and a gentleman.”
While Australian star Hugh Jackman said he had grown up ‘idolosing sean connery.’
“A legend on screen, and off. Rest In Peace,” he shared.
James Bond fan Piers Morgan also tweeted: “RIP Sir Sean Connery, 90. The first James Bond. The best James Bond. What sad news.”
Gary Lineker acknowledged the captchprase Connery made famous as he posted: “Shaken and, on this occasion, stirred to hear that Sir Sean Connery has passed away.
“Had the pleasure of playing golf with him on a couple of occasions. A real character and for me, the best Bond. James Bond should be immortal. RIP.”
Sir Sean became a firm favourite with movie goers following his time as Bond.
Later in his career he also proved a critical hit too as he took home the Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1988 for his role as a tough Irish police officer in The Untouchables.
Among his other hit films include in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Dragonheart and Murder on the Orient Express.
But his time as the super spy was never forgotten.
When Sir Sean turned 90 in August, the team behind James Bond paid a special tribute to his contribution to the franchise by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
The James Bond Twitter account wrote: “Happy Birthday to our original 007, Sean Connery, who turns 90 today. With love from Michael, Barbara, everyone at EON and all your fans.”
A poll conducted by the Radio Times the same month declared Sir Sean the best James Bond ever.
More than 14,000 people voted for their favourite Bond with Daniel Craig, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan giving Sir Sean some stiff competiton.
But the popularity of the Scotsman was could not be topped by his rivals as he stole an impressive 56% of the vote.
It was Dr No, the first of the Bond films, that helped turn Connery into an international star.
His fame only grew with the ever more popular sequels From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball.
After 1967’s You Only Live Twice, Sir Sean turned his back on the franchise over fears of being typecast but was persuaded back for 1971s Diamonds Are Forever.
Sir Sean left Bond behind again, only to be coaxed back for a second time for 1983’s Never Say Never.
Despite Sir Sean’s reservations, his time on Bond opened up him to a huge audience and cemented his status as an international sex symbol.
He was proclaimed Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine – and in 1999, at age 69, he was voted Sexiest Man of the Century.
However his greatest achievements may be his polling as The Greatest Living Scot and Scotland’s Great Living National Treasure.
Born Thomas Sean Connery on 25 August 1930 in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, he is the eldest son of Euphemia McBain “Effie”, a cleaning woman, and Joseph Connery, a factory worker and lorry driver, who also had another son, Neil.
Calling himself Sean long before the bright lights of Hollywood lured him to the entertainment industry, before becoming an actor, Sean Connery joined the Royal Navy and it was here he acquired two tattoos: one that reads “Mum and Dad” and the other says “Scotland Forever”.
After being medically discharged from the navy, he worked as a lorry driver, a lifeguard, a labourer, a coffin polisher and an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art.
Artist Richard Demarco, at the time a student who painted several notable early pictures of Connery, described him as: “very straight, slightly shy, too, too beautiful for words, a virtual Adonis”.
That Adonis soon took a keen interest in bodybuilding at the age of 18, entering the Mr Universe competition.
However, he turned to acting after he was offered a contract with Manchester United football for £25 a week.
He recalled:”I realised that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23.
“I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”
He got his first taste of showbusiness working backstage at the King’s Theatre in late 1951, and not long after landing a small part in the production of South Pacific.
By the time the production reached Edinburgh, he had been given the part of Marine Cpl. Hamilton Steeves and was understudying two of the juvenile leads.
It was here in 1954 Connery first met actor Michael Caine at a party. The two became firm friends and Connery caught the acting bug, deciding to pursue a career in film.
A struggling actor trying to make ends meet, he played the role of a boxer in the TV series The Square Ring, where he was spotted by Canadian director Alvin Rakoff who gave him a break in 1956 TV movie The Condemned.
After landing a few bit parts and TV roles – including in the BBC Television police series Dixon of Dock Green – he landed the role of a lifetime.
In 1962 he was cast as secret agent James Bond – a character he played from 1962-1971, then again in 1983.
At the time it was said he was reluctant to commit to a film series as the dapper Bond, but he knew that his career would benefit greatly should the franchise succeed.
He ended up playing secret agent 007 in the first five Bond films: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967) – then appeared again as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Interestingly, James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, originally doubted Connery’s casting, having said: “He’s not what I envisioned of James Bond looks.”
Those thoughts didn’t last long and Fleming was so impressed with Connery’s turn in Dr. No, he created a half-Scottish, half-Swiss heritage for Bond in the later novels.
Bond made Connery a household name, but he eventually grew tired of the role and the pressure the franchise put on him.
His friend Michael Caine once said: “If you were his friend in these early days you didn’t raise the subject of Bond. He was, and is, a much better actor than just playing James Bond, but he became synonymous with Bond.
“He’d be walking down the street and people would say, ‘Look, there’s James Bond.’ That was particularly upsetting to him.”
Abandoning the beloved Bond, over the following years, Connery found great success as part of ensemble casts in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with Vanessa Redgrave and John Gielgud, and A Bridge Too Far (1977) co-starring Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Olivier.
We nearly saw Connery as Gandalf, too, however he declined the role as he ‘didn’t understanding the script’. CNN reported that the actor was offered up to 15% of the worldwide box office receipts to play Gandalf, which could have earned him as much as $400 million for the trilogy.
Connery confirmed his retirement from acting on film at the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 June 2006. In regards to his rumoured return to the screen, he once said: “retirement is just too much damned fun”.
Connery was married to actress Diane Cilento from 1962 to 1973. They had a son, actor Jason Connery, before he married Moroccan-French painter Micheline Roquebrune in 1975 – who he remained with until his passing.
In his older age, he relied on the help of a full-time caregiver where he lived in New York City, rarely making public appearances.
However his attendance at the US Open in August garnered a standing ovation from the crowd, as the James Bond theme rang out across the stands.
It’s this popularity that made the leading man a true Hollywood legend. – Mirror & Agencies ■