Scottish film and theatre actor Sean Connery, famous for his diverse career including the indestructible spy James Bond, passed away on Saturday, surrounded by his family. He was 90.
Leaving behind a legacy of dozens of films and plays, both in the UK and the US, Connery rose to fame as James Bond and stole the hearts of women all over the world.
“His wife Micheline and his son, Jason, have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family,” family spokesperson Nancy Seltzer said on Saturday.
“Sean was a global legend but, first and foremost, he was a patriotic and proud Scot,” said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Connery was raised in near poverty in the slums of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, and, in his pre-acting days, worked a series of odd jobs including as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard. It was his bodybuilding hobby that helped launch an acting career that made him one of the world’s biggest stars.
Connery will be remembered first as British spy agent 007, James Bond, the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and immortalised by Connery in films starting with Dr. No in 1962.
Despite rumours that he might play in yet another Indiana Jones sequel, his performance in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) turned out to be his last one. Not a bad title for a last film, as Connery proved for decades to be a true gentleman both on and off the screen.
Over the years, Connery established himself as a serious actor with varying degrees of commercial success. He gave some remarkable performances in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Name of the Rose (1986), and The Untouchables (1987), for which he received his only Oscar.
In between, often in supporting roles, he helped make big Hollywood blockbusters even more successful. Films like Highlander (1985), Indiana Jones (1989), or Robin Hood (1991) hugely benefited from his middle-aged charm.
In the 1990s, Sean Connery performed in a few less notable films, but by then he had already developed other interests. When he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, the Scottish patriot was clad in a kilt during the ceremony.
He was honoured by his hometown, Edinburgh, with the Freedom of the City award a decade ago, which he considered to be more important than the knighthood.
The actor had always been a vocal support of independence for his native Scotland, and he established a foundation to benefit talented young Scots.
The actor’s achievements and good looks were recognised throughout his lifetime as well. Connery was voted “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine at the age of 59. Even 10 years later, another survey revealed that he was the “Sexiest Man of the Century”.
Managing to maintain a heartthrob status well into their advanced years would be an achievement for any actor, but as years passed, Connery’s charisma seemed to grow. With his silver hair, healthy tan, and muscular stature and dazzling charm, Sean Connery was a world star, in front of and behind the cameras.
Connery was married to Moroccan-French artist Micheline Roquebrune for 45 years, and has a son from his first marriage. The couple owns several homes in Scotland, as well as in Spain and in the Bahamas.
In recent years, Connery stopped making public appearances and withdrew from show business. He is said to have spent most of his time in the Bahamas, where he pursued another hobby: golf.