“I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” said Scottish First Minster Nicola Sturgeon.
Connery was raised in near poverty in the slums of Edinburgh and worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his bodybuilding hobby helped launch an acting career that made him one of the world’s biggest stars.
Connery will be remembered first as British agent 007, the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and immortalized by Connery in films starting with “Dr. No” in 1962.
As Bond, his debonair manner and wry humour in foiling flamboyant villains and cavorting with beautiful women belied a darker, violent edge, and he crafted a depth of character that set the standard for those who followed him in the role.
He would introduce himself in the movies with the signature line, “Bond – James Bond.” But Connery was unhappy being defined by the role and once said he “hated that damned James Bond”.
Tall and handsome, with a throaty voice to match a sometimes crusty personality, Connery played a series of noteworthy roles besides Bond and won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop in ”The Untouchables” (1987).
He was 59 when People magazine declared him the “sexiest man alive” in 1989.
Connery was an ardent supporter of Scotland’s independence and had the words “Scotland Forever” tattooed on his arm while serving in the Royal Navy. When he was knighted at the age of 69 by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 2000 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, he wore full Scottish dress.
Some noteworthy non-Bond films included director Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964), “The Wind and the Lion” (1975) with Candice Bergen, director John Huston’s “The Man Who Would be King” (1975) with Michael Caine, director Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and the Cold War tale “The Hunt for Red October” (1990).
In a 1983 interview, Connery summed up the ideal Bond film as having “marvellous locations, interesting ambiance, good stories, interesting characters – like a detective story with espionage and exotic settings and nice birds.”
But Connery’s influence helped shape the character in the books as well as the films. He never attempted to disguise his Scottish accent, leading Fleming to give Bond Scottish heritage in the books that were released after Connery’s debut.