31st October 2020

James Bond actor Sean Connery dies

Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, in August 1930, and became one of the most famous actors in the world when he landed the role of James Bond in 1962’s Dr No. This was followed by From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, before Connery temporarily relinquished his licence to kill.

Bond and beyond

However, after George Lazenby also quit the roll, following 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Connery was lured back for one more ‘official’ outing in Diamonds are Forever, released in 1971. In 1983, he starred in Never Say Never Again, which was effectively a remake of Thunderball.

Beyond the Bond universe, Connery had lead roles in some of the biggest films of their day, including The Name of the Rose, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October and Marnie.

Early life in Edinburgh

Connery wasn’t always destined to be a film star, though. His first job was a milk round in Edinburgh, after which he joined the Royal Navy. Other jobs, including artist’s model and lifeguard, were to follow, before taking behind-the-scenes work at a theatre, where he went on to land a small part – which subsequently grew. Other theatre roles followed and, subsequently, small parts on TV and, finally, some leading film roles.

Ian Fleming, who created the character of James Bond was famously sceptical about Connery when he was chosen for the role, and wanted an established name to take the lead. However, he understood what the producers saw in him when he viewed the finished film.

The Thanet Times of 17 July 1962 quoted Connery, who explained that, “about two years ago I made a decision that no matter what happened I would not take another acting part that I did not believe in. I lost a couple of very good paying ones, and most of my friends said I was stupid. But some other good parts came along and then I was approached about ‘Dr. No’. This was like asking a boy who was crazy about racing cars if he’d mind having a present of the latest sports Jaguar. I had always been enthusiastic about Ian Fleming’s James Bond stories… I hardly slept for days wondering whether I’d get the part.”

“This one’s going to make a fortune”

Dr. No hit cinemas on 5 October 1962 to almost universal acclaim. “Sean Connery makes James Bond a somewhat rougher diamond than I had imagined,” wrote Felix Barker the following day in the Liverpool Echo. “This one’s going to make a fortune.” Barker was right: its box office takings were almost sixty times what it had cost to make, and it’s carried on being watched ever since.

However, not everyone was impressed. “With Sean Connery given the job of putting [James Bond] on screen, and a million dollars spent in the process, I expected something better than this,” wrote Ernest Betts in The People two days after the film’s opening. “We get a clumsy script which boobs in your face and some hammy situations that send the thrills skidding into laughs.”

Connery was a member of the Scottish National Party and supporter of Scottish independence. In later life, he moved to the Bahamas, where he died, aged 90. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in Scotland.



Other events that occured in October

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