Former James Bond actor Sean Connery. Photo: Reuters
LONDON: Legendary actor Sean Connery, best known for playing fictional spy James Bond, has died at the age of 90, leading to an outpouring of tributes for one of Britain’s best-loved screen heroes.
Sir Sean’s son Jason told the BBC that his father died peacefully in his sleep overnight while in the Bahamas, having been “unwell for some time”.
The Scottish actor, who was knighted in 2000, won numerous awards during his decades-spanning career, including an Oscar, three Golden Globes and two Bafta awards.
“He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond,” said the movie franchise’s producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
“He revolutionized the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent.”
The pair added Connery was “undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series, and we shall be forever grateful to him.”
A message on a Twitter account maintained for fellow late Bond actor Roger Moore, who died in 2017, called the news of his passing “infinitely sad”.
It added: “He and Roger were friends for many decades and Roger always maintained Sean was the best ever James Bond. RIP.”
Hollywood star Hugh Jackman said: “I grew up idolizing #SeanConnery. A legend on screen, and off. Rest In Peace.”
Connery, born in Edinburgh in 1930, claimed his sole Oscar in 1988 for best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in “The Untouchables”.
He also starred in “The Hunt for Red October”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “The Rock”.
But it is his smooth, Scottish-accented portrayal of the suave spy 007 that earned him lasting worldwide fame and adoration.
The first actor to utter the unforgettable “Bond, James Bond”, Connery made six official films as novelist Ian Fleming’s creation, giving what many still consider as the definitive portrayal.
– Proud Scot –
A bricklayer, lifeguard, and coffin polisher, among other manual jobs, before he found fame, Connery kickstarted his acting career after a bodybuilding hobby led him to enter the Mr Universe competition.
There, a fellow competitor urged him to audition for acting parts, and he soon started landing small roles.
His big break came by starring as Bond in 1962’s “Dr. No”, the franchise’s first film.
He went to play Bond in “From Russia With Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964), “Thunderball” (1965), “You Only Live Twice” (1967) and “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971).
He made a comeback as the British spy in the unofficial 1983 film “Never Say Never Again”.
Off-screen, Connery was a fiercely proud Scot and a financial backer of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates for independence for Scotland from the UK.
The nation’s former First Minister Alex Salmond reacted to his death by describing Connery as “the world’s greatest Scot, the last of the real Hollywood stars, the definitive Bond.”
Salmond said his signature voice, spirit and passion had endured even though “his health was failing” in recent years.
“I will miss him. Scotland will miss him. The world will miss him,” he added. (AFP/RSS)