Sir Sean Connery, the Scottish actor who may be best known for his time as James Bond for seven movies, has died overnight in his sleep in the Bahamas.
Connery’s family confirmed the news to BBC, stating that it was “understood he had been unwell for some time.”
Connery’s son Jason said that his father “had many of his family who could be in the Bahamas around him. 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. 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.”
Thomas Sean Connery was born in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh on August 25, 1930, and was the son of a Catholic factory worker and Protestant domestic cleaner. He left school at 13 and took odd jobs before joining the Royal Navy. Three years later, he was removed from service due to stomach ulcers.
Following his time in the Royal Navy, he began gaining the reputation of a “hard man,” perhaps furthered by the time he stopped six gang members from stealing from him all by himself. He was also in love with football, and was offered a £25-a-week contract to play with Manchester United. However, he thought a footballer’s career was too short and decided he would make his life’s goal to become an actor.
He began on stage in 1953 by joining the chorus of a production of the musical South Pacific. A year later, he made his first appearance as a film extra in 1954 in the film Lilacs in the Spring, and after some minor roles in TV, he got his first leading film role in 1957’s Blood Money.
He would continue to act and, while he was perfecting his craft, producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had acquired the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and began looking for an actor to play 007 himself.
Broccoli’s wife, Dana, was said to be the one who helped convince Cubby that Connery had “the magnetism and sexual chemistry for the part.” Interestingly, Fleming did not think Connery was the right choice, saying, “I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man.”
Fleming ended up changing his mind after seeing Connery in action as Bond, and would even write in a half-scottish history for Bond in his later works.
While critics were not enamored with Connery’s portrayal of Bond, the public fell in love with him. His first film as Bond was Dr. No, and he continued to play the secret agent in 1963’s From Russia with Love, 1964’s Goldfinger, 1965’s Thunderball, and 1967’s You Only Live Twice.
Following 1967’s Bond film, Connery “was tiring of Bond and feared being typecast.” He turned down the opportunity to play Bond again in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Saltzman and Broccoli convinced him to come back for 1971’s Diamonds are Forever for a then record of $1.25 million.
His last Bond film would be 1983’s Never Say Never Again, a role he took after losing a ton of money in a Spanish land deal.
Outside of Bond, Connery played many roles, and won a Bafta for his performance as William of Baskerville in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. He finally won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as a world-weary Irish beat cop in The Untouchable.
He also found success in other such films as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Rock, The Hunt for Red October, The Russia House and Entrapment, First Knight, and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
One role he did turn down, however, was not agreeing to take on the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings in 2006, a role that was then played by Sir Ian McKellen. He had said he was tired of acting and was sick of the “idiots now making films in Hollywood.”
He was first married to Australian actress Diane Cilento, but was divorced in 1975 amid allegations that he had been violent towards her and was unfaithful. They did have one son together, Connery’s only child – Jason Connery.
He was knighted in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II, and is survived by his second wife, Micheline Roquebrune, his son Jason, and a grandson.
Source: IGN.com Sir Sean Connery, James Bond Actor and Oscar Winner, Dies at 90