Obituary: Sean Connery (1930-2020)
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
The iconic actor who should be remembered for more than Bond.
By: Anttoni James Numminen
Source: NBC News
Born into a working-class family in Edinburgh in 1930, Thomas Sean Connery beat the odds to become one of the best-known and most iconic actors to have lived.
Having dropped out of school during WWII at the age of 13, Connery became an international film star at the age of 32 when cast as the secret agent, James Bond, in 1962’s Dr. No.
Considered by many to be the James Bond, he had a defining part in making the franchise the huge success it remains to this day. Yet despite the major success that Connery himself experienced in the role of the (world’s least) secret agent, by the time of You Only Live Twice he had grown tired of Bond and feared being typecast.
Nevertheless, Connery returned to the role of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) for what was at the time a record sum of $1.25m plus royalties. After completing the film, Connery said “never again” to Bond roles and donated all his salary from the film to the Scottish International Education Trust, an organisation he’d founded to assist young Scots in obtaining an education. Connery’s charitable activities continued in the future when in 1987 he donated £50,000 to the National Youth Theatre in England after reading an article on the failing institution.
Especially after, but also before playing Bond, Connery appeared in a number of noteworthy films such as Hell Drivers (1957), The Hill (1965), about a British Military Prison in North Africa, The Offence (1973), in which Connery plays a detective interrogating a suspected child molester, possible one of his darkest roles, but also appearing in more tongue-in-cheek roles such as in Terry Gillam’s Time Bandits (1981).
Thus, in later life Connery was able to diversify his roles, choosing to appear in films he thought interesting or amusing. Finally receiving an Oscar for his performance in The Untouchables (1987), in which he plays an Irish cop with a Scottish accent. By the end of his life, he had racked up over 60 film credits, perhaps overcoming his ambiguous relationship with stardom and failure to be taken ‘seriously’ as an actor for not having any truly ‘notable’ stage work.
In old age, he faced criticism over his tax affairs as well as the apparent ‘hypocrisy’ of advocating Scottish Independence despite living overseas. Not to mention the sexist approach to women, displayed in the Bond films but also in his personal life, once admitting in a TV interview that he thought “slapping” women was sometimes “acceptable”.
Though a relic of his time, Connery and his Bond will be missed by many, a hero that is needed, but one that is also fun and can be criticised and laughed at in hindsight.
Despite being a problematic person, Connery is seen as and will be remembered as more than just an actor. He is a cultural reference point, continually imitated and referenced in 20th-century culture, not to mention in Trainspotting. Though he tried to distance himself from Bond, appearing in more good films that can be mentioned here – though just to add a few more: Ransom (1974), The Name of the Rose (1986), The Russia House (1990) – he made Bond and was made by Bond.
No doubt his memory and his roles will live on into the next century.