Sean Connery, Beloved James Bond Star, Dies at 90

Photo credit: Anwar Hussein
Photo credit: Anwar Hussein

From Esquire

Sean Connery, the Oscar-winning Scottish actor who rocketed to fame after his star-making performances as James Bond, has died, according to the BBC. The actor died in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas. He was 90 years old.

Born in the slums of Edinburgh in 1930, Connery joined the Royal Navy as a teenager but was dismissed on medical grounds after only a few years of service. Soon after his dismissal, Connery got into bodybuilding and eventually competed in a Mr. Universe contest. He finished in third place. Connery’s physique and handsome looks ended up being his ticket into the movie industry.

After portraying Count Vronsky in a BBC production of “Anna Karenia,” Connery won a Daily Express poll that asked readers who the ideal James Bond would be. He then appeared in 1962’s “Dr. No,” the very first Bond film, which turned him into an international movie star — a status he’d enjoy for nearly half a century.

Connery starred in five James Bond films back to back. He grew tired of playing the suave, tuxedoed secret agent after filming 1967’s “You Only Live Twice” and relinquished the responsibilities of the role to an unfamiliar Australian actor named George Lazenby. Lazenby starred in one Bond film — “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”—before Connery was lured back to the franchise by a $1 million salary to star in “Diamonds Are Forever.” He’d go on to portray a moody and aging version of Bond one more time in 1983’s “Never Say Never Again.”

Determined to not let the Bond franchise pigeonhole him, Connery made a concerted effort to expand the characters he played. His work paid off in 1988 when he was awarded an Academy Award for playing a tough Irish cop in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables.” Throughout his career Connery continued to star in beloved box office hits like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and critical successes like “The Hunt for Red October.”

Sean Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on July 5, 2000 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in his native Edinburgh. He is survived by his brother; his second wife, painter Micheline Roquebrune, whom he married in 1975; his son, actor Jason Connery, who he had with his first wife the actress Diane Cilento; and a grandson.

After news broke of the actor’s passing, celebrity tributes began rolling in on Twitter.

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