Bond movie idol Sean Connery dies, aged 90

Movie legend Sean Connery, the original film James Bond, has died at the age of 90.
Movie legend Sean Connery, the original film James Bond, has died at the age of 90.

Sean Connery, the charismatic Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as the suave secret agent James Bond and then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other roles, has died aged 90.

Connery's wife and two sons said he "died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family" in the Bahamas, where he lived. Son Jason Connery said his father had been "unwell for some time".

"A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor," he told the BBC.

Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said they were "devastated" by the news. They said Connery's "gritty and witty portrayal of the sexy and charismatic secret agent" was largely responsible for the success of the film series.

Connery was raised in the slums of Edinburgh and worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his bodybuilding hobby helped launch an acting career that made him one of the world's biggest stars.

He will be remembered first as British agent 007, the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and immortalised by Connery in films starting with Dr No in 1962.

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".

Connery played a series of noteworthy roles besides Bond and won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop in The Untouchables (1987).

His 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).

Connery was 59 when People magazine declared him the "sexiest man alive" in 1989.

He 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, he wore full Scottish dress including the plaid kilt of his mother's MacLeod clan.

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 married Australian actress Diane Cilentoactress 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.

AP and Reuters

Australian Associated Press