Thomas Sean Connery, a former milkman in the slum neighborhood in Edinburgh, Scotland who parlayed the role of the fictional British spy James Bond into one of the most successful movie careers in history – died in his sleep last week in Nassau, Bahamas.
Connery, who was reportedly chosen to play the Bond character without a screen test, had been a B-movie actor before rocketing to international fame as novelist Ian Fleming’s original Agent 007 in the pioneering film “Dr. No” in 1962 opposite Swiss actress Ursula Andress, that used the sex-and-violence formula to captivate the crowds.
When producers Harry Salzman and Cubby Broccoli saw the box-office dollars suddenly pouring in, they immediately signed Connery to reprise Agent 007 in a slew of succeeding Bond movies like “From Russia with Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964), “Thunderball” (1965) and “You Only Live Twice” (1967) that all turned out to be blockbusters.
The latest in the long line of British actors to take on the Bond persona is Daniel Craig, since 2006.
But Connery didn’t confine himself entirely to the Salzman-Broccoli stable. He took on several other projects such as “The Untouchables” (1987) which won him an Oscar, Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964), John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King ” (1976), “Murder on the Orient Express” (1987) and his encore “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003).
Connery is beloved in his homeland due to his philanthropy. Not many are aware he donated the millions he earned from the Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) to the Scottish International Education Trust that he created to help poor Scots get an education.
People magazine paid supreme tribute to a balding 59-year old Connery – a long way away from his dashing and debonair days as Agent 007 – when they voted him as their “Sexiest Man Alive.”