The family of Sir Sean Connery have let the world know that the actor has died, aged 90. The first actor to play James Bond on the big screen, in seven movies, he was so impressive in the role that Ian Fleming wrote a Scottish backstory into the character in subsequent novels. Other notable films in his long career included an Oscar winning role in The Untouchables, as well as star performances in The Hunt for Red October, The Name Of The Rose, Time Bandits, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Highlander, Highlander 2, The Rock and his swansong, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen where he played the classic Victorian pulp character Allan Quartermain. Sir Sean Connery received his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at Holyrood Palace in 2000.
Born to a working-class family in Edinburgh in 1930, he left school at 13 with no qualifications and became a milkman, an undertaker and a bricklayer before joining the Navy.Subsequently he was a truck driver, lifeguard and a model, turning to bodybuilding, but turned down an offer to play for Manchester United in favour for the stage. COmpeting in Mr Universe saw him also audition for the musical South Pacific. This led to minor roles in film and television, including a gangster in the BBC classic Dixon Of Dock Green. It was the BBC that gave him his first lead, as a boxer in the drama Blood Money, when Jack Palance pulled out. This led to more films, and being case by James Bond, at the recommendation of Dana Broccoli, wife to producer Cubby Broccoli, who had bought the Bond rights, against the wishes of Ian Fleming, who saw him as an "overgrown stunt man". He changed his mind after Dr No was released.
Five films later, he turned down On Her Majesty's Secret Service, coming back for Diamonds Are Forever for a record fee, which Connery used to set up the Scottish International Education Trust. After Roger Moore tool the role of Bond, Connery would return one more time for Never Say Never Again after losing a lot of money in a Spanish land deal.
Between the Bonds, he mostly chose supporting roles, such as his most excellent turn as Agamemnon in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits and winning a BAFTE for playing William of Baskerville, in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. This would lead to playing the only New York Irish cop with a Scottish accent, in The Untouchables, winning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he played Harrison Ford's father, despite being only 12 years older. And there was a knowing nod towards James Bond, alongside Nicholas Cage in The Rock, where he was a British secret agent kept imprisoned for decades.
As well as The Hunt for Red October, The Russia House, Highlander, Highlander 2 and Entrapment he would star as Alan Quartermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which soured him on the filmmaking experience and left him to turn down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings in 2006,
Sir Sean Connery left Scotland – and the UK – becoming a famous tax exile, after his success, though he still supported Scottish Independence, financially as well as vocally, which also held up a long-delayed knighthood. He retired to his homes in Spain, Portugal and the Bahamas, with his second wife, the artist Micheline Roquebrune. His last public appearance was in 2012, when he turned out to support Andy Murray at the US Open. He is survived by his son Jason Connery, from his first wife, the actor Diane Cilento. Sir Sean Connery died last night in his sleep, after being ill for some time, in his Bahamas home.