Sean Connery, Scottish actor who served tour of duty as James Bond, dies at 90

BREAKING: Actor Sean Connery has died at age 90.

10/31/2020 4:11:00 PM

BREAKING: Actor Sean Connery has died at age 90.

Scottish actor played 007 in first six installments of Bond franchise, finally won an Oscar for 'The Untouchables.'

Actor Sean Connery, the original James Bond, is pictured here on the set of Goldfinger with a 1964 Aston Martin DB5.Bettmann Archive / Getty ImagesOct. 31, 2020, 1:06 PM UTCByEthan SacksSean Connery, the Scottish actor who earned his license to thrill as the original on-screen James Bond and then spent the rest of his career trying to make audiences forget that role, died Saturday, the official James Bond account confirmed.

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He was 90.Born on Aug. 25, 1930 in Edinburgh to a mother, Euphemia McBain, who toiled as a cleaning lady, and a father, Joseph, who plugged away in a factory, Connery seemed destined for a far less glamorous life than the one he would later enjoy as one of the most popular leading men of his generation. Indeed, after leaving school at 14, he drudged through a number of blue-collar jobs from truck driver to milkman — the worst of which, he would later say, was polishing coffins — before discovering acting.

He muscled into the craft quite literally, being discovered while competing as a body builder in a Mr Universe competition held in London in 1950. There, he booked a part in the chorus of a traveling production of"South Pacific." His physique landed him his first major television role, playing a boxer in the BBC drama,"Requiem for a Heavyweight," which in turn led to a Hollywood contract with Paramount.

Actor Sean Connery attend the Men's Singles Semifinals match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Marin Cilic of Croatia on Day Twelve of the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 11, 2015 in Queens, New York.Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

His big break, of course, came when producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were looking to adapt the popular James Bond spy novels for the big screen. Cary Grant turned the role down, which left them looking for a cheaper and less known Plan B. They settled on the 6-foot-2 Connery. Bond author Ian Fleming famously detested the casting at first, saying the bulky Scot had none of the refinement of his fictional British creation.

“I never got introduced to Fleming until I was well into the movie but I know he was not happy with me as the choice,"Connery recounted to Britain's"The South Bank Show" in 2008.“What was it he called me, or told somebody? That I was an 'over-developed stunt man.'"

Audiences clearly disagreed:"Dr. No" opened as a huge hit in 1962, catapulting Connery into superstardom and the fledgling franchise into a pop culture phenomenon that is still going 25 films, $7 billion and more than a half century later. As Bond, Connery would cement his long-running image as a Hollywood heartthrob — an image that would net him People's"Sexiest Man Alive" honor in 1989, when he was 59-years old.

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Sean Connery in a scene from the film 'James Bond: From Russia With Love', 1963.United Artist / Getty ImagesConnery continued in her Majesty's cinematic service for the five of the next six installments —"From Russia With Love" (1963),"Goldfinger" (1964),"Thunderball" (1965),"You Only Live Twice" (1966), and"Diamonds Are Forever" (1971). He would reprise the role for one last time twelve years later with"Never Say Never Again," though that film is not considered part of the official Bond canon.

He parlayed that fame into a lead role opposite Tippi Hedrin in Alfred Hitchcock's 1964 thriller,"Marnie" — a film and a part as a rapist that has become even more uncomfortable to watch in the #metoo era.Even as the public's fascination with the fictional British super-spy grew, however, Connery's tolerance for the character ebbed. Frustrated by fights with producers over his salary and the increasing sense that Bond would overshadow everything else he did, the actor ejected himself from the series.

"A lot of people still say, 'Hello, Mr. Bond,' like someone has never heard it before," Connery told '60 Minutes' in 1999."And because they’re still making (more Bond movies), it’ll always be there."And even as George Lazenby and Roger Moore continued that franchise, it took Connery a lot longer to escape its shadow. For every critically acclaimed role — such as the Agatha Christie adaptation"Murder on the Orient Express" (1973) or"The Man Who Would Be King" (1975) — there were less prestigious ones such as"The Next Man" (1976) or"Meteor" (1979).

He'd achieve modest success in the mid-80s playing a monk the period mystery,"The Name of the Rose," but he had yet to manage a role anywhere close to as high profile as the biggest one on his resume.Sean Connery holds up his best supporting actor Oscar for "The Untouchables" at the 60th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California on April 11, 1988.

Lennox McLendon / AP fileIt would take until the 1988 Academy Awards, however, before Connery would fully receive his due as a serious actor, with a best supporting win for his role as a Chicago cop who mentors Kevin Costner's Elliott Ness in"The Untouchables."

That sparked a creative and box office resurgence which included"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989),"The Hunt for Red October" (1990),"The Rock" (1996) and"Finding Forrester" (2000).But after five decades in the film industry, the curmudgeonly Connery seemed to reach a breaking point with the 2003 film,"League of Extraordinary Gentleman." As poorly as received as the comic book adaptation was by critics, no one seemed to revile it more than Connery, who reportedly feuded with director Steven Norrington throughout production.

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ethanjsacks Sean Connery Mr. James Bond we love thank you for the memories Hunt for Red October one of my favorites. Author of article was it necessary to say his mother “toiled” as cleaning lady? His father “plugged along” as a factory worker? So sad. He was incredible 💖💖💖 I died? Rest in Power💪 MorganRadford One ping only, please. ...And a moment of silence. RIP, sir!

He liked to slap women. 'His wife Micheline and his two sons, Jason and Stephane, have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family. There will be a private ceremony followed by a memorial yet to be planned once the virus has ended,' publicist says on behalf of Connery's family.

no loss slapping guy is gone Nooooooooooooo 😭 He provided many happy hours of entertainment. RIP Sean Connery ,the best James Bond ever 😢😢

James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dies aged 90Sir Sean Connery, the actor who defined James Bond, has died aged 90 Sean Connery best James Bond actor for sure. RIP! R.I.P So sad! He was such a good actor.

Sean Connery, iconic James Bond actor, dies at 90BREAKING: Sir Sean Connery, the Academy Award-winning actor famous for playing James Bond, has died, the franchise confirmed. He was 90 years old. RIP pakde R I P

Sean Connery, best known for his role as James Bond, dies at 90Connery is best remembered for his iconic role as 007 in the James Bond movies. Rest In Peace. 😢 Que descanse en paz este excelente actor. Mi película favorita del 007 es Goldfinger. En mi colección tengo un carrito escala 1/64 que lanza al pasajero. Sean Connery QDEP 😢

Sean Connery, who defined the role of 'James Bond' for a generation, dies at 90, reports sayOscar-winning Sean Connery, has died at age 90, according to the BBC who was informed by the actor's family, and Variety. Rest In Peace! You will be missed!! Rest In Peace to the best 007 EVER! Sean Connery jamesbond RIPSeanConnery Oh no. Before he died Roger Moore was active on Twitter. Someone tweeted 'It's my birthday today, how about a shout-out from the best Bond ever?' and Sir Roger replied 'I don't think Sean's on Twitter...'

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James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dies aged 90Sir Sean Connery, the actor who defined James Bond, has died aged 90 Sean Connery best James Bond actor for sure. RIP! R.I.P So sad! He was such a good actor.