Website last updated: 7-5-2024

James Bond screen legend Sir Sean Connery turns 90

By: Mark Cerulli
Sean Connery turns 90
FSWL joins Bond fans around the world in wishing Sir Sean Connery a happy and healthy 90th birthday. The legendary star was only 31 when he began filming a US $1 million action movie called Dr. No (1962) based on Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond novel with the same title – which started one of the most iconic franchises in movie history, taking in over $7 billion at the box office and making him an international superstar.

Prior to Bond, Sean Connery had been making a name for himself as a young actor, landing his first film role in 1957’s No Road Back, playing a washed-up boxer in the BBC production of Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight and Lana Turner’s love interest in Another Time, Another Place. Hollywood soon came calling with roles in Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People and Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure in 1959. Although a number of actors including, David Niven (who would take on the role in the 1967 spy spoof Casino Royale), Trevor Howard and reportedly even Cary Grant were considered for the role of agent 007, Connery won it after impressing the producers with his confidence and swagger. (It didn’t hurt that producer Albert R. Broccoli’s wife Dana Broccoli said he was “gorgeous”!)

Although author Ian Fleming had preferred someone more refined than “an overgrown stuntman”, he quickly warmed up to the Scottish actor after the success of Dr. No. Connery would make four more Bonds throughout the 1960s, cementing his identification with the role but he tired of the long shooting schedules which prevented him from taking on other work. An intensely private man, he also resented the intrusive Bond frenzy, especially when he went on location to Japan in 1966 to shoot You Only Live Twice. Crowds of Bond fans and press shadowed him everywhere – including into a restaurant bathroom! By the end of filmig, he had had enough and declared he was done. Although he owed the producers one more film, they released him from his contract. (Officially, he would return as Bond in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, and unofficially in 1983’s Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again.)

For many actors, walking away from such a plum role at the height of their career would have meant disaster but Connery remained one of the most in-demand stars of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. He made a wide variety of films including Robin & Marian (with Audrey Hepburn), The Man Who Would Be King – which teamed him with his longtime mate, Michael Caine, several science fiction epics – 1974’s Zardoz and 1981’s Outland. The roles just kept on coming! In 1995 at a press conference for The Rock, Connery joked about the number of “sixty five year-olds” making action movies! He was rewarded with numerous awards including an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, a BAFTA (for The Name of the Rose) a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Untouchables in 1988, a Golden Globe DeMille Award in 1996 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 1999. Perhaps most importantly, in 2000 his incredible achievements were recognized by Queen Elizabeth II when he was Knighted at a ceremony in his native Edinburgh, Scotland.

Watch a clip from the BAFTA interview with Sean Connery in Edinburgh 2006:

Sir Sean retired from the screen after 2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, declining numerous offers – including one by Steven Spielberg to reprise his role as Indiana Jones’ father. He spends much of his time in the Bahamas with his loving family.

Turning 90 is a true milestone for anyone, but for an actor as beloved as Sean Connery, it’s an occasion for every Bond fan to raise a Martini (“shaken not stirred”) and thank him for his iconic body of work.

Cheers, Sir Sean!

Editor's note:
In August 2008, Sean Connery published his book Being A Scot which was also published as a paperback in 2009.

In April 2012, Sir Billi (voiced by Sean Connery) premiered in USA at the Sonoma International Film Festival. And in September 2013, Sir Billi got its UK cinema release and DVD release courtsey of Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

Sean Connery voice over as Sir Billi in Scotland
Sean Connery doing voice over as Sir Billi in The Bahamas. Copyright © 2014 Billi Productions Ltd. All rights reserved.

Visit the official website for more information about Sean Connery's life and career including his wife's artwork.



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