Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy!
Today we will be talking about Sir Sean Connery. He was born Thomas Sean Connery in Scotland in 1930, same year as my dad. Sean passed away last October (2020). RIP. He played Bond in six Eon-produced 007 films and once in another non-official 007 film, Never Say Never Again (1983).
Sean’s first job at age 14 was a milkman, and he joined the Royal Navy at 16. He was discharged three years later for health reasons (stomach ulcer). After that, Sean had a variety of jobs, including coffin polisher, and spent a lot of time bodybuilding. In 1953, he placed third in the Mr. Universe competition. He was offered a football contract (do they mean soccer?), but turned it down and decided to become an actor. Strangely, he was not an overnight success and toiled away for years, doing janitorial work and making little money, before finally getting offered a few bit parts. He had a role in Action of the Tiger, which was directed by Terence Young, the director of the first three Bond films. Sean did four more films before he was chosen by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to star in Dr. No (1962).
After that, Connery starred as Bond in From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967). At this point, Sean felt he was becoming typecast and left the role. George Lazenby was then brought in for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but refused to do more. The producers were desperate for someone to portray Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), so they offered Sean a huge amount of money to return for another film. He received a base of $1.25M, which he donated to charity, and 12.5% of the profits. Sean’s take, estimated at about $4.5 million, made him the highest paid actor of the time. Roger Moore then became the next Bond. Sean went on to roles in many other films, including one of my favorites, The Hunt for Red October (1990).
In 1983, Connery played Bond in Never Say Never Again, which was a remake of Ian Fleming’s novel Thunderball. As noted above, Eon already made a movie from that book in 1965. But this 80’s flick was not an Eon production; it was produced by Jack Schwartzman’s Taliafilm in association with Kevin McClory. Kevn was one of the original writers of the 1965 version. There was a protracted legal battle over rights from the 1960’s onward yada. In any case, this marked the seventh and final time Sean Connery played 007. The title is a humorous nod to Sean’s 1971 statement that he would “never” play Bond again. The storyline is about an aging Bond, brought back to investigate the theft of a couple nukes by SPECTRE.
Sean was voted People Magazine’s Sexist Man Alive in 1989, when he was 69. In 2006, he received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. He also won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards, and three Golden Globes. And he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. Connery was married twice and had one son, Jason. He died in his sleep at age 90, of pneumonia and heart failure, in the Bahamas.
Tune in tomorrow for more A-Z Bond!
Information and images from Wikipedia, Looper, 007James, and People.
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