Sean Connery, first James Bond on the big screen, has died at 90


Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No.

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Sean Connery, most famous for his portrayal of James Bond, has died aged 90, his family said Saturday. The actor, who played Bond in seven movies starting with 1962’s Dr. No, died in his sleep in the Bahamas. The actor had been “unwell for some time,” his son Jason told the BBC.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Connery had an acting career that spanned decades and included multiple award-winning performances. He won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his work in The Untouchables in 1988 and won three Golden Globes. He also starred opposite Harrison Ford in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which he played Jones’ father.

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Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. He largely retired from acting that decade, but he played Bond one last time through voice-over in the 2005 video game adaptation of From Russia With Love. His final role was a voiceover in the 2012 Scottish animated movie Sir Billi.

Over the years, he appeared in dozens of films, working with directors from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma. In his pre-Bond work, he was probably best known for a Disney film about leprechauns, 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People.

It was his appearance in Dr. No, the first big-screen adaptation of one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, that catapulted Connery into superstardom. He followed that up in quick succession with From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, over a span of five years. He stepped away from the role, ceding the 007 title to George Lazenby for one film, then returned in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.

Connery made one more comeback as Bond, starring in 1983’s Never Say Never Again (a reworking of Thunderball), which is said to have taken its name from Connery’s earlier opposition to returning to the role, and then relenting.

James Bond movies, ranked, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig

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Though other notable actors, including Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, have played James Bond, Connery has been widely considered to be the definitive 007. He brought a distinctive mix of suave sophistication and steely brutality to the role, with his performances becoming the measuring stick by which his successors have been judged.

In his later years, he turned in performances that were nearly as iconic. Often bearded where Bond was clean-shaven, but sometimes nearly as physical as the British secret agent, he brought both authority and wit to films including The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, The Hunt for Red October and The Rock, along with his turn in the Indiana Jones series.

Tributes to Connery

Many paid homage to the actor online, including the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, who called Connery “one of the true greats of cinema.”

Also offering condolences was another Bond actor, George Lazenby, who was the first to step into the role after Connery’s huge success. He noted that “Sean Connery as James Bond inspired me personally but seems to have encapsulated an age.”

Only a few weeks ago I was wishing Sean all the best for his 90th birthday. Now, I’m very sad to be condoling with his family and friends. Of course, Sean Connery as James Bond inspired me personally but seems to have encapsulated an age, the Sixties. I…

— George Lazenby (@lazenbyofficial) October 31, 2020

Every day on set with #SeanConnery was an object lesson in how to act on screen. But all that charisma and power- that was utterly unique to Sean . RIP that great man , that great actor .

— Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) October 31, 2020

“Every day on set with Sean Connery was an object lesson in how to act on screen,” said Sam Neill, who starred alongside Connery in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October. “But all that charisma and power — that was utterly unique to Sean.”

1/ I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons.

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 31, 2020

“I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery,” said Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland. “Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons.”

Sean Connery was a movie legend, even far into his golden years. Our strongest Bonds were formed by him, and he was Untouchable. He passed today at age 90, a suave hero to the end.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 31, 2020

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

— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 31, 2020

Few were cooler, few more suave, few more effortless. He showed us all how it could be done and he thrilled and entertained us the entire time. RIP Sir Sean Connery.

— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) October 31, 2020

Roger Moore, the actor who succeeded Connery in the Bond role with 1973’s Live and Let Die, died in 2017.

A representative of Connery didn’t respond to a request for comment.

CNET’s Sean Keane and Jon Skillings contributed to this report.


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