Sean Connery obituary: James Bond and The Untouchables legend dies aged 90

Sir Sean Connery, one of the most iconic actors in film history, has passed away at the grand old age of 90.

The Oscar-winning star of seven James Bond films, The Untouchables and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade died peacefully in his sleep while staying in the Bahamas. His son Jason confirmed that his father had been unwell for some time.

“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.”

Born in Edinburgh, Connery took on a number of jobs including a milkman, lorry driver, a labourer, an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art and bodybuilder. He also joined the Royal Navy but was later discharged because of medical problems.

He made his acting debut in a stage production of South Pacific which then led to an uncredited appearance in the 1954 film Lilacs in the Spring. He also cropped up in various television programmes including a gangster in an episode of the BBC police drama Dixon of Dock Green (1956).

1957 would prove to be a lucrative year for Connery as he starred in a number of low-budget films. The first of those was as a stammering assistant yeggman in the crime flick No Road Back (1957). That was soon followed by his role as a troubled boxer in the television drama Blood Money. Coincidentally, that production also featured future collaborator and fellow screen legend Sir Michael Caine.

The year was completed by appearances in Hell Drivers, Action of the Tiger and the ITV Playhouse drama Anna Christie. His screen career continued to soar with big and small-screen roles in the likes of Another Time, Another Place (1958), An Age of Kings (1960), Macbeth (1961), The Frightened City (1961) and On the Fiddle (1961).

In 1962, Connery was cast as Private Flanagan in the all-star war epic The Longest Day which also starred John Wayne, Richard Burton and Robert Mitchum. However, it was his next role that would define his career for the rest of his life.

At the age of 32, he was cast as the charismatic secret agent James Bond in the first cinematic adaptation of the hit novel series; Dr. No (1962). Author Ian Fleming initially disapproved of the casting but quickly changed his mind when he saw him on screen.

Dr. No became a box-office smash and unsurprisingly, more 007 films were swiftly made in From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). Connery’s stardom had rapidly risen and during that exhausting period, he was also able to work on other projects including the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Marnie (1964) and the war drama The Hill (1965).

By the time he made his fifth Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), Connery had grown tired of being typecast and opted not to make the next instalment On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).

But after playing rebellious Irish immigrant Jack Kehoe in the historical drama The Molly Maguires (1970), he was convinced to return as Bond for the next 007 outing Diamonds are Forever (1971). Connery had been paid a-then record $1.25m fee which he later used to set up the Scottish International Education Trust.

After leaving the world of Bond again, Connery shared his first Golden Globe for Favourite (Male) Film Star with Charles Bronson and then jumped onboard for the hit mystery drama Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

The 1970s led to more big-budget roles including The Wind and the Lion (1975) and a reunion with former co-star Michael Caine in the historical epic The Man Who Would Be King (1975). Additionally, he also played an ageing Robin Hood alongside Audrey Hepburn in Robin and Marian (1976) as well as starring in The First Great Train Robbery and all-star epics A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Meteor (1979).

Even into his 50s, Connery continued to land notable roles as Marshal William T. O’Niel in the sci-fi thriller Outland (1981) and as King Agamemnon in the cult fantasy Time Bandits (1981).

Two years later, he accepted a lucrative offer to return as James Bond again in the 1983 outing Never Say Never Again. The film proved to be another hit though it would be the final time that Connery would play his iconic character on screen.

His post-007 career continued to flourish in the mid to late 80s starting with his role as Ramirez in the hit fantasy adventure Highlander (1986). He would later return as that character in its underwhelming follow-up Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).

That same year saw him portray non-conformist friar William von Baskerville in the historical mystery The Name of The Rose. The role won him his only BAFTA in the Best Lead Actor category.

Coincidentally, Connery would garner accolades for his next performance as world-weary Irish policeman Jim Malone in the crime drama The Untouchables (1987). It would result in him winning both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his memorable supporting turn.

Another classic role came in 1989 when he played Henry Jones Sr., the professor father of archaeologist Indiana Jones in the hit action sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Remarkably, Connery was just twelve years older than co-star Harrison Ford!

Into the 90s, he took on the authoritative part of Marko Ramius in the action-thriller The Hunt for Red October (1990) and then starred alongside Michelle Pfeiffer in the romantic thriller The Russia House (1991).

After making an uncredited cameo as King Richard in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Connery continued to work on action roles with key turns as Dr. Robert Campbell in Medicine Man (1992), King Arthur in First Knight (1995), the voice of Draco in Dragonheart (1996) and as renowned criminal John Patrick Mason in the Michael Bay blockbuster The Rock (1996). Also thrown into the mix was the Cecil B. DeMille Award which was presented to him at the 1996 Golden Globes.

Towards the end of his acting career, he took on projects that proved to be underwhelming efforts including the villainous Sir August de Wynter in The Avengers (1998), Mac in Entrapment (1999) and Forrester in Finding Forrester (2000).

During that period, Connery was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace yet also turned down the chance to play both Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy AND Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

His final cinematic outing came in 2003 when he portrayed veteran adventurer Allan Quarterman in the film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The action flick ended up being a flop and was a disappointing end to Connery’s prestige career on screen.

He did come out of retirement briefly in 2012 when he provided his voice of title character Sir Billi in the Scottish animation Sir Billi. Unfortunately, that film also ended up being a critical failure.

Sir Sean is survived by his second wife Micheline Roquebrune, sons Jason and Stephane and grandson Dashiel.

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