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James Bond star Sean Connery dies aged 90

James Bond star Sean Connery dies aged 90

File photo of actor Sean Connery attending the Men's Singles semi-finals match at the 2015 US Open. (Photo: Getty Images/AFP/CLIVE BRUNSKILL)

LONDON: Movie legend Sean Connery, best known for playing fictional spy James Bond, has died at the age of 90, leading to an outpouring of tributes for one of Britain's best-loved screen heroes.

"His wife Micheline and his two sons Jason and Stephane have confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family," family spokesperson Nancy Seltzer said on Saturday (Oct 31).

Jason earlier told the BBC that his father died peacefully in his sleep overnight while in the Bahamas where he has a home, having been "unwell for some time".

"We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently," he added, calling his father's death "a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor".

Connery will be honoured in a private funeral ceremony, with a memorial event to be held later, according to a publicist for him.

The Scottish actor, who was knighted in 2000, won numerous awards during his decades-spanning career, including an Oscar, three Golden Globes and two Bafta awards.

"He was and shall always be remembered as the original James Bond," said the movie franchise's producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

"He revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent."

The pair added that Connery was "undoubtedly largely responsible for the success of the film series and we shall be forever grateful to him".

Connery claimed his sole Oscar in 1988 for best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in The Untouchables.

He also starred in The Hunt for Red October, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

But it is his smooth, Scottish-accented portrayal of the suave spy 007 that earned him lasting worldwide fame and adoration.

The first actor to utter the unforgettable "Bond, James Bond", Connery made six official films as novelist Ian Fleming's creation, giving what many still consider as the definitive portrayal.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Thomas Sean Connery was born on Aug 25, 1930 in the working class Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh to a truck driver father and a factory worker mother, the eldest of two boys.

"My childhood was less than auspicious, but when I was young we didn't know we lacked anything because we had nothing to compare it to and there's a freedom in that," he said on receiving the 34th American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 2006.

"I got my break, big break, when I was five years old and it's taken me more than 70 years to realise it. You see, at five, I learned to read. It's that simple and it's that profound."

He left school at 13 and started his working life as a milkman before joining the Royal Navy at 16. He was discharged after three years due to a stomach ulcer.

Connery returned to Edinburgh and worked as a bricklayer, lifeguard and coffin polisher, among other manual jobs.

His bodybuilding hobby led him to enter the Mr Universe competition, where a fellow competitor urged him to audition for acting parts.

He got bit-parts for years before featuring in a film melodrama, Another Time, Another Place (1958).

His big break came by starring as Bond in 1962's Dr No, the franchise's first film.

He went to play Bond in From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

He made a comeback as the British spy in the unofficial 1983 film Never Say Never Again.

"I grew up with no notion of a career, much less acting," he once said. "I certainly never have plotted it out. It was all happenstance, really."

He announced his retirement after The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).

PROUD SCOT

Off-screen, Connery was a fiercely proud Scot and a financial backer of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which advocates for independence for Scotland from the UK.

He had the words "Scotland Forever" tattooed on his arm while serving in the Royal Navy. 

When he was knighted at the age of 69 by Britain's Queen Elizabeth in 2000 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, he wore full Scottish dress including the green-and-black plaid kilt of his mother's MacLeod clan.

"It's one of the proudest days of my life," the newly-dubbed Sir Sean told reporters.

Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond reacted to his death by describing Connery as "the world's greatest Scot, the last of the real Hollywood stars, the definitive Bond".

Salmond said his signature voice, spirit and passion had endured even though "his health was failing" in recent years.

"I will miss him. Scotland will miss him. The world will miss him," he added.

Connery married actress Diane Cilento in 1962. Before divorcing 11 years later, they had a son, Jason, who became an actor. He married French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he met playing golf, in 1975.

Source: AGENCIES/gs

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