NO MR BOND, WE EXPECT YOU TO DIE
Scottish actor Sean Connery has proven the concept of immortality false by dying aged 90. The man voted the Scotland’s Greatest Living Treasure, The Sexiest Man Alive and The World’s Greatest Tax Dodger had been suffering from dementia. Connery had been a bodybuilder, a lifeguard, a coffin polisher (one of us?) and a footballer for Bonnyrigg Rose in the 1950s before he turned to acting. He made regular appearances as extra on stage before breaking through with roles in Requiem for a Heavyweight and Hells Drivers. (The later recommended if you ever wanted to see first Doctor Who William Hartnell swearing on camera.)
He also played the most Scottish MacBeth in TV history, which was clearly a building block for future success as the most Scottish American cop (Untouchables), the most Scottish English-American army officer (Murder on the Orient Express) and best of all, the most Scottish Russian U-boat commander who ever lived (Hunt for Red October).
But we all know the role you know him best for. In 1962, he took the role of James Bond, 007 himself, in the first blockbuster film Dr No. He promptly made the role very Scottish, to the point that Ian Fleming himself made Bond Scottish in the few books he had left to write, and the characters origins story in Skyfall is in the Scottish Highlands. Connery’s suave performance turned the best selling books into a billion dollar worldwide franchise, and his quips and one liners (too many to name but “I must be dreaming”, “Positively shocking” and “I think they were on their way to a funeral” stand out) became part of film lore. Connery played James Bond in six official films – including all time classics From Russia With Love and Goldfinger – and the godawful Never Say Never Again. He grew to hate the role, but the role made him a whole lot of money for his tax free bank account.
Elsewhere, Sean Connery starred in Sidney Lumet’s critical war drama The Hill, which is probably the best film mentioned in this obituary that you’ve never heard of. Connery worked with Lumet five different times and produced some of his best work alongside the director including The Anderson Tapes. He worked opposite Alfred Hitchcock in Marnie, and with his best friend Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King. Other classics which added a touch of the Connery class included: A Bridge Too Far, Robin and Marian, Time Bandits, Name of the Rose, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (as Indi’s dad), The Rock. And Zardoz. We can’t forget Zardoz… He was also first choice to play Gandalf, but turned it down and the $450 million the role would have gained him. No wonder Ian McKellen is always smiling these days…
As superstar as his acting career was, his real life was not without controversies. His ex-wife Diane Cilento accused him of being abusive, and Connery couldn’t help but make repeat comments over the years, to Playboy or to Barbara Walters, that appear to defend domestic abuse. While we joke about his tax dodging, its perhaps more accurate to call him a tax evader, which as we all know is perfectly legal… He was loudest in support for Scottish independence but Sir Not Appearing in this country for most of the last 30 years. Worst of all, he openly admitted to supporting Glasgow Rangers.
Connery had been on the fringes of the Drop 40, with 23 teams picking up Bond. This incudes Deathly Steeds, Worm Fodder, Hydrangea and Mercarte, who runs the popular Italian Deathlist, always worth a look. His death has also led to that age old chestnut of who was the best Bond, which is silly as everyone knows it is Roger Moore. (OK there is an argument for Timothy Dalton too. Daniel who?)
He also once punched out a gangster who was trying to shoot him.
25 August 1930 – 31 October 2020