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Sean Connery, the first James Bond, dies aged 90

The original screen incarnation of James Bond, Sean Connery also featured in classics like 'Marnie', 'The Untouchables' and 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'

Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2010. Photo courtesy: Reuters
Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2010. Photo courtesy: Reuters (REUTERS)

Scottish actor Sean Connery has died aged 90. Audiences will forever remember him as agent 007, the Ian Fleming character immortalized by Connery in films starting with Dr. No (1962). He had a four-decade-long film career, which included an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Untouchables (1987).

Born Thomas Connery on 25 August 1930, he was the elder of two sons of a long-distance truck driver and a mother who worked as a cleaner. He dropped out of school at age 13 and worked in a variety of menial jobs. At 16, two years after World War Two ended, Connery was drafted into the Royal Navy, and served three years.

"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."

Connery played small parts with theatre repertory companies before graduating to films and television.

After the success of Dr. No, more Bond movies followed for Connery in quick succession: From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967). Connery then grew concerned about being typecast and decided to break away. But he was lured back in 1971 for Diamonds Are Forever, with temptations that included a slice of the profits, which he said would go to a Scottish educational trust. He insisted it would be his last time as Bond but he was back 12 years later, at age 53, in Never Say Never Again (1983).

As Bond, his debonair manner and wry humour in foiling flamboyant villains and cavorting with beautiful women belied a darker, violent edge, and he crafted a depth of character that set the standard for those who followed him in the role.

He would introduce himself in the movies with the signature line "Bond—James Bond." But Connery was unhappy being defined by the role and once said he "hated that damned James Bond".

Some noteworthy non-Bond films included director Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), The Wind and the Lion (1975) with Candice Bergen, director John Huston's The Man Who Would be King (1975) with Michael Caine, director Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and the Cold War tale The Hunt for Red October (1990). Genre cinema fans will remember him starring as the "Brutal Exterminator" Zed in John Boorman's fantasy epic Zardoz (1974), where a heavily moustachioed Connery spent much of the movie running around in a skimpy red loin-cloth, thigh-high leather boots and a pony tail.

Connery retired from movies after disputes with the director of his final outing, the forgettable The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2003.

"I get fed up dealing with idiots," he said.

Connery was an ardent supporter of Scotland's independence and 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.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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